This obituary below appeared in the North County Times (San Diego County), February 23, 2006.  Garland Stephens was a very involved personality in the Los Alamitos-Rossmoor area.  He apparently became more involved with the Race Track affairs after the death of Frank Vessels, Sr. in 1963.  He was very involved with the track during the presidency of Millie Vessels, after the death of her husband, Frank, Jr.

Longtime Vessels friend Marv Haney tells this story of Garland Stephens.  Garland like to go to shows and look at horses, and and one time at an auction, he saw a colt that he thought was going to be real good.  He didn’t have enough money by himself so he approached Millie Vessels and said he saw a horse he thought was going to be real good.  Millie had seen the horse and wasn’t that impressed, but she agreed to go half interest in with Garland.  Millie, having the deeper pockets, put in the winning bid at the auction which was attended by a lot of horsemen who thought well of this horse.   A little later Garland came back  to Millie and said his wife was having conniptions about him spending that much money on a horse.  He was real real sorry but he had to back out.   So here was Millie, stuck with a horse she didn’t really want in the first place but she couldn’t lose face in front of all these people she knew so she went ahead and bought the horse solo.  The horse turned out to be a race named Time to Think Rich which sired more money-winners than any other quarter-horse in history.

 

Garland G. Stephens

Garland Stephens
Garland Stephens - a prominent Los Alamitos lawyer, Rossmoor leader, and attorney for the Los Al Race Track

FALLBROOK – Garland G. Stephens, prominent Orange and San Diego County attorney died September 16, after a short illness. He was 85.

Born June 13, 1921, in Weed, New Mexico, Stephens practiced law for 30 years and was the attorney for Los Alamitos Race Track in Orange County, where he put together the deal which sold the facility to Hollywood Park. Also representing the Vessels family or Orange County, Stephens was instrumental in handling the purchase of the San Luis Rey Downs Golf Course in Fallbrook, along with its adjacent thoroughbred horse race training facility.

Previous to practicing law in Los Alamitos, Stephens was associated with the law firm of Allen R. Steele and Robert E. Krause in Long Beach. During World War II, Stephens was an air traffic controller in the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving in North Africa and Iran. He received his law degree from Pacific Coast University of Law. He served as a trustee of the University of La Verne in La Verne, California.

Stephens and his wife, Virginia, moved to Fallbrook 20 years ago from Los Alamitos, where he was prominent as president of the Chamber of Commerce, Rossmoor Homeowners Association, Civitan Club and a founder of the Casa Youth Shelter for troubled teenagers. In Fallbrook, Stephens was a board member and secretary of the Fallbrook Hospital Foundation, an officer of the Fallbrook Seniors Golf Group and a former member of Pala Mesa Men’s Golf Club.

In addition to his wife of 63 years, he is survived by three children, Carol Hauhuth of Tigard, Oregon, Susan Watson of Orange, California, and Jerry Stephens of Maui, Hawaii. There are six grandchildren, Stacey Glenn and Scott Watson of Fountain Valley, Nicole Stephens and Sterling Stephens of Pukalani, Maui and Sean Stephens of Atascadero, California. There are four great-grandchildren.

Stephens was the son and grandson of an early pioneer ranching family in Otero County, New Mexico. His early years were spent working on the ranch. He was one of seven children, all of whom are deceased except for a brother, Robert Stephens of Capitan, New Mexico.

Private services will be held in Tularosa, New Mexico.

2 thoughts on “OBIT: 1996 – Garland Stephens – early Rossmoor leader, attorney for Frank & Millie Vessels”
  1. I don’t know Marv Haney, but will ask some friends if they know of him, because I was close to the Vessels gang and question some of these statements. Timeto Thinkrich was a mare bred and raced by Vessels, won the All American Futurity and was not in a sale. The horse Garland went half with Millie when she asked if he wanted in was FDD, and it was EK Holmes that insisted Millie purchase him
    at Phillips Ranch sale in Texas in the early 80’s, 83 I believe. A lot more to the story, but I’m not a typist.

  2. GARLAND HAPPENED TO BE OUR ATTORNEY,THE SALE REFERED TO WAS IN TEXAS AND MILLIE WAS BIDDING ON THE HORSE AND LATER ASKED GARLAND IF HE WANTED HALF. HAD’NT HEARD THE STORY ABOUT CONNIPTIONS BUT I’M SURE IF TRUE, BILL WADDELL COULD VERIFY THAT.

    R.I.P.

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