The Life of Stephen P. Stanton 

Stephen was born to his proud and loving parents, Mary Therese Stanton and Dennis Stanton on April 13, 1991. Baptized at Immaculate Conception Church in Jenkintown, Stephen attended St. Luke's Grade School, was a 2009 graduate of LaSalle High School and a 2013 graduate of St. Vincent’s College, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Art Administration – besides his parents, his first love.

 

The arts would be a strong theme in Stephen’s full life. From the earliest memory, Stephen sang with his family’s singing group, the Stanton Family Singers. At the age of eight, Stephen was selected for the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Boy Choir after singing a duo of Irish songs at his audition. The director of the prestigious choir, Tom Windfelder, nicknamed Stephen “Irish,” a name that stayed with him throughout his life.

 

The Boys Choir was the first of many gateways to Stephen’s endless desire to learn, especially music.  It was with the choir where he learned to read music, understand the enormous impact music has on the Church as well as the history of the Church prompting a later religion teacher to boast, “… he knows more (about church history) than I do.”

His performances with the Archdiocesan Boy Choir took him to many of the beautiful and famous churches and parishes of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but it was the ABC Choir’s trips abroad that left Stephen in awe of not only the Church, but of Catholics on a global scale. He visited the walled City of Avila, Spain where Stephen performed at many of the churches and participated in centuries old Holy Week traditions including the nightly street processions.  On Stephen’s first trip to Fatima with the ABC Choir, Stephen and the Choir sang at a World Pilgrimage to over two-hundred thousand Pilgrims on Fatima Square. It was a profoundly moving event for a young boy that helped to shape and deepen his faith, yet another recurring theme, along with music, in Stephen’s life. Steve visited the village of the three children that the Blessed Mother appeared to at Fatima. Sister Lucia was one of those children that Steve and the choir sang songs for at her at her Carmelite Monastery. The sisters gave handmade scapulars to the children which Steve still wore up until his death.  On the last night at Fatima Square Steve cried after the last performance, overwhelmed by the experience.

On Stephen’s second visit to Fatima, Stephen’s grandparents, John and Harriet Stanton, joined the group and took great pride in the achievements of their young grandson while telling Stephen that the trip was one of the best experiences of their lives.


Stephen continued his pursuit of music through his participation in the after school and summer theatre camps. Steve intensified his love of music and performing throughout the coming years. At age nine, he began piano lessons at the renowned Settlement School and became proficient to take lessons with Eugene Varshavsky, one of the most sought after teachers of piano in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Boy Choir’s Tri-Annual play was being cast. Stephen auditioned for and was offered the lead in “Oliver!” a role he slipped into like a glove. Steve continued his love of piano, performed with the Stanton Family singers and at a very young age sought after the challenge of playing of all instruments, the bagpipes, an instrument of great symbolism to his heritage. 

Following these pursuits, in Eighth Grade, Stephen tried out for and landed once again the lead role, this time “Tevye” in the summer stock program of “Fiddle On The Roof,” at the Keswick Theater where it ran for two sold out nights. That same year, Stephen travelled to Rome to attend the funeral of now Saint Pope John Paul II. Steve saw the future saint lie in State and attended the mass which had over two million in attendance.

 

Stephen enjoyed traveling almost as much as music. Through his life, in addition to the trips to Europe, Stephen enjoyed the amazing sites of the United States.  His trips took him to Yosemite National Park, Rocky Mountains, Alcatraz, Mount St. Helen’s, Mount

Rainier, Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National

Parks and Lake Powell. He was in awe of witnessing the Space Shuttle Endeavor lift off in 1996 when he was five years of age. By participating in the People to People student ambassador program, Steve continued to see parts of the world in addition to the U.S. that many adults only dream of seeing, especially France, Greece and Italy.

Stephen’s years at LaSalle College High School continued to land mark the ongoing wonders of his childhood.  He continued in LaSalle High School’s choir, performed on piano at many school masses and in his senior year, achieved yet another lead role in the school’s play that year, “How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” a demanding role for the lead as it requires the lead to be on stage much of the performance.  But a crowning event of high school occurred off stage and ironically on the basketball court.  In Stephen’s Junior year at LaSalle, during a particularly crushing performance by the visiting basketball team, Stephen ran home, collected his bagpipes—not a staple

musical instrument for the average 16 year old—and along with some friends dressed and painted themselves as as Scot-Irish warriors.  At half time the would-be William Wallaces inspired by the bag piping of Stephen, rallied the home court spectators so much that LaSalle returned from near defeat to a resounding win.  So unique a performance, the event made it to the Philadelphia Daily News the next day headlined simply as “The Win Was In The Bag.”  The win was the talk of the school—even till now. Steve was a LaSalle Student Ambassador and Sang the Star Spangled Banner for the opening ceremonies of his Graduation. At his Baccalaureate Mass, He sang and played the piano at the closing performance on the alter of “ Orange Sky”.  Stephen proudly graduated with a clear understanding of the La Salle mission of entering to learn, but leaving to serve.

 

After returning in his junior year at St. Vincent’s, even greater adventures were ahead as Steve chose to study abroad in Galway, Ireland.  Steve studied at the National University of Ireland-Galway (NUI) where, especially here, he could not resist to continue his love of the bagpipes and learned the Uilleann Bagpipes, among the most difficult, and the national language of Ireland, Gaelic, of which only a few thousand people still speak.

While at NUI, Stephen, who never stopped surprising his teachers, he had a class in which the professor lectured on the “Good Friday Peace Accord” which essentially ended the violent hostilities between the Irish and English of 800 hundred years in Ireland.  The professor asked the class, “Has anyone heard of the Good Friday Peace Accord?  Expecting to hear a resounding “no” from his students, especially since most were only seven or eight years old at the time, up went the hand of Stephen who told the professor that he not only heard of the Accord, but was in Belfast when it was voted on in 1998.  Stunned that the only person who responded was the only American in the class, Stephen went on to tell the class what that experience was like and shared his knowledge of the event.

Returning from Ireland, Stephen never missed a beat with his first love of music.  He played in Long Miles as well as in the rising local band, the Bare Knuckle Boxers, in which his cousins, Mike and Connor Stanton are musicians.  He also joined the Philadelphia Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick becoming one the youngest members.

Transitioning from his life of adventure to the professional world.  In 2014 Stephen began his working career at Stanton Systems of  Ivyland, Pennsylvania where he would learn a business, just the kind of challenge he loved.  With the vast world of experiences, adventures and even participation in some of the world’s great recent history, Stephen knew the first 23 years of his life were uniquely special, even at one point admitting, “ Dad, I’m gonna miss the old days.”

Steve in his eternal life now was able to save four peoples’ lives with his organs and give two people sight. He lives on in the memory of all of his cousins and two foundations, The Stephen P. Stanton '09 Memorial Scholarship, which gives scholarships to financially challenged students a chance to go to private catholic schools and The Scholarship with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Society that will enable again financially challenged students to exchange to and from Ireland. During his years at St. Lukes, LaSalle, and St Vincent’s, Steve touched the lives of many with his special personality of being unassuming, having humility, and kindness. Steve studied the virtues and he lived them.

Albert Einstein once said that there are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Stephen lived the latter and we are all grateful for the miracle that was his life.

That autumn Stephen was accepted to and entered St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  His college years were to be no different than what Stephen already knew which were knowledge and exploration and the love of both.  He majored in Music and Arts Administration, of course, but expanded his horizons to include everything from taking flying lessons at Arnold Palmer Airport to going on Safari in Kenya.  It was here Stephen saw wildlife and a side of Nature rarely visited by most. Camping in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Stephen witnessed one of the most spectacular natural phenomena: The Great Migration.

© Stand By Steve: Stephen P. Stanton Memorial Foundation

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