Stan Stephens and his wife Mary Helen first began operating tours with the goal of sharing the beauty of Prince William Sound, a place he loved dearly, with the world. Stan moved to Alaska in 1961 where he first lived in Anchorage, followed by Fairbanks and then building his home in North Pole. Prior to the creation of what became Stan Stephens Cruises, Stan enjoyed Prince William Sound as a recreational destination for fishing, hunting and touring. In 1978 his summers became dedicated to Valdez and after his daughters finished school in the interior Valdez became his full time home.
Stan led the company from 1971 when he purchased the first vessel until September of 2013 when he passed away. The tenets in which he lived his life and operated his business:
- Speak honestly and live your life to the fullest,
- Work diligently in the things you believe in,
- Work with industry and residents to protect the environment,
- Treat each person with complete respect,
- And love where you live and share it with the world.
It is these ideas that he left us with and that his family, future employees and co-workers will live by to ensure his legacy and dreams are continued.
Beyond operating his tour business, Stan was a leading advocate in protecting Prince William Sound. His advocacy started when the first oil tankers were loaded in Valdez in 1977 and became a very personal passion as a result of the Exxon Valdez disaster. In 1989 as Stan was captaining a vessel working on response to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill he wrote: “Today is absolute confusion. They found a lot of oil north of Perry Island in Wells Passage. Equipment is starting to break down. So there are less and less skimmers working. The oil is getting so spread out they cannot handle it. Here is a whole month gone by without a real understanding of those in charge how big Prince William Sound really is. I’m dedicating the rest of my life and spare time to the protection of the environment.” It is safe to say he did just that. Stan gave countless hours of volunteer time to ensure current protections and response measures are in place.