Dr. Graham Stephens was recognized for his leadership and commitment to his community and to Boy Scouting during the Blue Ridge Mountains Council’s annual Distinguished Citizen’s Recognition Dinner Thursday, April 29.
Called “Acorns to Oaks,” the recognition program was held at the Roanoke Sheraton Hotel. This year’s honorees included Stephens, who lives in Troutville, and Robert “Ben” Bennett Crawford from Blacksburg.
For Stephens, the recognition was nice, but the real value from last week’s dinner was where the proceeds were going.
Stephens has worked diligently to provide “camperships” or scholarships so boys who may have financial challenges can still attend a weeklong summer camp at the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation located in Pulaski County. Proceeds from the recognition dinner will be used to provide camperships.
Stephens began his adventures in Scouting as a Boy Scout in 1940 with Troop 7 in Luray where he earned the rank of Life Scout.
After graduating from Luray High School, he went on to become a medical doctor, and one of the founders of Emergency Room Associates at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, and later at Carillion Health Care, where he was a lead member of the Emergency Medicine staff for 35 years.
In 1968, Stephens reintroduced himself to Scouting when both of his sons joined Troop 137 at Troutville Church of the Brethren. Since that time, he has served in various roles including Scoutmaster or committee chairman for Troop 137 for 25 years. He also served as Council Vice-President for Programs, Council President, Area Vice President, Area Wood Badge Coordinator, and Regional Board Member for 35 years.
He also served the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation as the Camp Physician for over 15 years and as a Scoutmaster at two World Scouting Jamborees.
Stephens and his wife, Thelma, are members of the Troutville Church of the Brethren, and dedicate a great deal of time and effort to Missions in Honduras. In addition, they founded the Roanoke Figure Skating Club.
Steve Rossi recognized Stephens and presented him with the Acorns to Oaks Award. Rossi, a Blue Ridge resident, was presented with an Acorns to Oaks Award last year.
The awards were given in memory of Harley Erb, who joined the Boy Scouts in 1912 in Roanoke. Erb dedicated his life to Scouting and was instrumental in developing new Scouting initiatives over his lifetime as he served at district, council, regional and national levels. Most noteworthy was his service as Regional Executive of Region 5 for 27 years, where he began presenting the Acorns to Oaks Award to “individuals who performed outstanding dedication and service to the Character Building of Scouting” over decades.
The Acorns to Oaks Award is presented with the support of his son, Dr. Blair Erb.
The honorees were also presented with albums containing photos and letters of support from around the nation, including letters from government officials and leaders of national and state organizations.
The Blue Ridge Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America includes 21 counties and eight cities in southwest and south central Virginia with headquarters located in Roanoke.