Herman Lee Stephens Jr., a custodian at the East Hampton Middle School for many years and a 33-year resident of Springs, died of lung cancer on Aug. 8 at the East Hampton house of his brother Allen Stephens. He was 57.
Mr. Stephens, who was known as both Poola and Doc, was born in Ruffin, S.C., on March 7, 1954, one of 17 children of Allernease and Herman Stephens. At age 11 he moved with his family to Brooklyn, where he attended P.S. 28 and South Shore High School.
He spent the majority of his adult life working in his family’s masonry business in East Hampton until his father retired in 1990.
Two years later, he was hired by the East Hampton School District as a custodian, a job he held until his health began to decline earlier this year.
He was known for riding around town on his bicycle, but one night he was attacked and beaten. He was severely injured and the bike wrecked. As he was beloved by middle school students, they held fund-raisers for him and bought him a new bike.
Mr. Stephens enjoyed music, cooking, and playing the numbers 754 in the daily lottery.
“Doc was always willing to lend a helping hand,” his family said. “All you had to do was ask. If he said he would do something, you could trust it would be done.”
Mr. Stephens was predeceased by his mother, a brother, Richard Kroger, and a sister, June Stephens.
He is survived by his father and, in addition to Allen Stephens, by five other brothers: Michael Stephens of Aquebogue, Vincent Stephens of East Hampton, Bernard Stephens of Calverton, Frederick Stephens of Westbury, and Cameron Stephens of Walterboro, S.C.
He also leaves nine sisters, Annie May Stephens of Brooklyn, Rebecca Smalls of Charleston, S.C., Priscilla Kroger of Fayetteville, N.C., Annette Brown and Lisa Smith of Baltimore, Catherine Anderson and Evelyn Stephens of Hephzibah, Ga., Magdalene Smith of Bay Shore, and Erica Stephens of Walterboro, S.C.
A funeral service was held at Calvary Baptist Church in East Hampton last Thursday.
The family has suggested memorial contributions to the American Lung Association, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004, or the American Cancer Society, 238 West Town Street, Norwich, Conn. 06360.