Charles D. Stebbins

Charles D. Stebbins, 64, of Bowman, ND, passed away on Saturday, November 25, 2017 at the St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck. Funeral Services for Chuck will be on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at the St. Charles Catholic Church in Bowman. Fr. Paul Eberle will officiate with burial to follow in the Bowman Cemetery. There will be a Family and Friends Service on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Krebsbach and Kulseth Funeral Home Chapel.
Charles Duane (Chuck) Stebbins was born October 19, 1953 at Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii to Duane Stebbins and Lenore (West) Stebbins Burke. From Hawaii, the new family followed Duane’s work to Glendive and Roundup, Montana, and Worland, Wyoming. Four brothers and one sister were born along the way. The family finally settled in Bowman, North Dakota, where much of Chuck’s extended family lived. Chuck was the new kid in town when he started his sophomore year at Bowman High School. He quickly proved himself a good athlete. He was a varsity fullback, state qualifying wrestler, and pole-vaulter. He was also a fine swimmer and diver and worked summers as a lifeguard at the Bowman pool. Upon graduation from Bowman High School in 1973, Chuck worked for a short time for the ND Highway Department before entering the next phase of his life when he enlisted in the Navy in that same year. Chuck served four years as a Navy Seabee in a Mobile Construction Battalion. Most of his time in service was spent in the building of a major U.S. Naval station on the tiny island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. It was there that he met some of his lifelong friends. After his hitch in the Navy, Chuck became a union welder and ironworker. He also held a second job as a maintenance man at the Bismarck Civic Center. Chuck had settled into life in Bismarck with his wife, Donna (Hestekin) Connor and their four-month-old son Jesse, when his life took a dramatic turn. On July 22, 1982, while swimming and diving with friends in the Heart River near Mandan, Chuck suffered a severe spinal injury. He would spend the next 35 years using a wheelchair. After such a devastating accident, there are those who withdraw from life but Chuck chose a different path. He first fought to recover his independence. After a long and difficult period of recovery and rehabilitation, he pushed forward and began the transition to a completely new kind of life. Chuck’s deep desire for independence pushed him to learn to drive and to adapt to living on his own with minimal assistance. Once life had settled down from the chaos of the accident and the hard road of recovery, Chuck looked for a new challenge. He enrolled at the University of Mary in Bismarck and pursued a degree in social work. Chuck received his degree in 1990. He began his career in advocacy. He pushed for accessibility for and acceptance of persons with disabilities. Through personal relationships, in print, and before the cameras, he truly was a leader in the disability rights and independent living movement. Chuck was unafraid to confront the political powers-that-be on those issues and always worked for systemic rather than superficial changes. Chuck was a musician, artist, crafter, and writer. He loved music, comics, and conversation. He loved his family and friends and they loved him back. Chuck’s life was about transitions: From a life centered in the physical, he transitioned to a life of the mind. When he could no longer use his hands or feet, he learned to use his voice. All along the way, he had a positive impact on the people around him. Chuck’s natural charm, sense of loyalty, good nature, and sense of humor won him many friends who maintained contact with him throughout his life. If one measure of a man is the quality of his friends, then Chuck was wealthy beyond measure. Chuck passed away peacefully, surrounded by friends and family, at St. Alexius Hospital in Bismarck on November 25, 2017. Chuck was preceded in death by his father Duane, brother Bob, and maternal and paternal grandparents. He is deeply missed by his mother Lenore, his son Jesse (Cindy), his brothers Randy (Shonnie), Rick (Heidi), and Tim (Mary Jo), his sister Roxanne (Mark), his nephews Tyler, Kyle, Kevin, and Duncan, nieces Courtney and Alexa as well as extended family and all the friends he made along the way. The prison that his body became in 1982 could no more hold his spirit during his life than it could upon his death. His life was a victory and his death merely another change among many. He has slipped the bonds of this earth and we hope to see him again someday on the other side. In the meantime, we honor his memory and love him as we always have. Long may you run Chuck. God Bless and Godspeed.
“What do I want to do? I want to live among the clouds on an island in the sky. Do ya suppose that heaven is like that? Maybe not, I do hope it’s warm though!” Chuck Stebbins October 23, 2017
Memorials suggested to:
Craig Foundation D 3425 South Clarkson St. Englewood CO 80113
Dakota Center for Independent Living 3011 E Broadway Ave., Bismarck, ND 58501.

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