Henry Matthew Stephens (1868-1921)

Henry Matthew Stephens (1868-1921)

Henry Matthew Stephens was born in Neosho, Missouri, on January 4, 1868. His family moved to Renovo, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school. He further prepared for his undergraduate studies at the Dickinson-Williamsport Seminary. He entered Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1888 with the class of 1892.

An active and studious man, Stephens served in numerous positions of responsibility, including treasurer of the Athletic Association, class president in his freshman year and vice president in his senior year, physics laboratory assistant, business manager for the Microcosm and president of the Union Philosophical Society in his senior year. He also was a member of Phi Delta Theta, a leading member of the Chess Club, and sang first base in the Glee Club.

Stephens was perhaps the leading athlete of his class. He played for six years on the football team as an halfback and end, three as a student and three while he was an instructor. He ran with the track team and won the hundred yard dash at the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Sports meet.

He graduated in 1892 Phi Beta Kappa and began the studies that would eventually earn him his doctorate in science from Bucknell University in 1905. He also studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Marine Biological Laboratory. He joined the Dickinson College faculty as an adjunct professor of Physiology, Hygiene, and Physical Culture in 1895. He became adjunct professor of Biology two years later and in 1899 he was promoted to Professor of Biology. He served the science department until his untimely death.

In 1900, Stephens had married Elizabeth Young Stuart of Carlisle, Pennsylvania and they had one son, William Stuart Stephens who graduated from the College in 1926. In January, 1921, Professor Stephens was diagnosed with a parasitic blood disease, called at the time "sleeping sickness," probably American trypanosomiasis or Chagas disease. Though there was room for optimism that a person for his constitution could survive the disease, he failed suddenly in early February and - to the dismay of students and colleagues among whom he was very highly regarded - on February 5, 1921 he died. He was fifty-three years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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