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March 27, 2013

Wheaton College Saddened by the Loss of Student Graham Stevens

Graham Stevens

The Wheaton College community grieves the death of freshman Graham Elliot Stevens.

Graham, 19, was an undeclared major who was interested in biology. A Wheaton, IL resident and graduate of Glenbard South High School, he lived in the Smith-Traber residence hall.

Last Friday evening, Graham collapsed while participating in the Men’s Glee Club tradition of playing “Capture the Flag” on Blanchard lawn. He was immediately transported to Central DuPage Hospital, where he remained unconscious in the intensive care unit.

Because the medical professionals caring for Graham determined that there was nothing more that could be done, the Stevens family decided to withdraw life support. As a gesture of generosity in the midst of their grief, Graham’s family decided to extend his legacy by making his organs available for donation.

Graham died last night. He is survived by his parents, Jeffrey and Brenda Stevens, two sisters, and three brothers. On campus, he will be remembered with special care by his many friends, including his floormates who live on Traber 3 and his fellow singers in the Men’s Glee Club.

“As Graham’s family and close friends gathered by his side to say goodbye, I was encouraged to hear many wonderful stories about him,” said Wheaton College Chaplain Stephen Kellough. “Graham will be remembered as a young man who was full of life and vitality as a Christian believer, and as a good friend who sacrificed for others. I was especially moved to learn that Graham has friends who will remember him as the person who led them to faith in Christ.”

The Stevens family is affiliated with Blanchard Alliance Church, where Graham played piano as part of the worship team on the church’s Warrenville campus.

Brad Jones, the minister of music at Blanchard Alliance, was Graham’s piano teacher for several years. Jones described Graham as a gentle soul who loved the outdoors and showed special tenderness to his three younger brothers.

“Graham was quiet and gentle, but had a way of drawing people to him,” Jones said. “People just loved him. He had a winning smile, and a really hilarious sense of humor.”

Graham also enjoyed singing in groups and had gained confidence as a soloist over time. “He was a very cool-headed guy under the pressure of performing,” Jones remembered. “At church, I would throw new things at him at the last minute, and he’d say, ‘OK, I’ll try that.’ He knew that he had something to offer, and was willing to share it.”

Jones said that Graham was known as a listening ear to his friends. “He had a lot of wisdom, and a special capacity to be with people who were troubled. His friends often thought of him as a counselor—and a counselor who always directed them to Jesus.” 

A Memorial Service for Graham will be held at 6:30 p.m. Easter Sunday, March 31, at the Blanchard  Alliance Church, located at 1766 S. Blanchard Street in Wheaton. Visitation begins at 5 p.m. and  will continue after the service.