Greg Stevens

June 21, 1951 - February 5, 2023


Greg Stevens, 72, died Monday morning, Feb. 5, in Olympia. An enthusiastic performer and raconteur, Greg liked to say he was “born at a very early age — in a barn, just like Jesus” to Herman Dale and LaVeta Rose Stevens in Denver, Mo., June 21, 1951.

When he was a toddler, his family moved to Plainview near Wichita, Kansas. His mother taught him to play guitar, and it was not long before he was building a fan base by playing and singing in regional talent contests. At age 10, he and his musical siblings, “The Stevens Brothers,” traveled to Providence, R.I. to perform on WPRO-TV. It was the start of a professional musical career that dazzled audiences all over the country.

He enrolled at Wichita State University in the fall of 1969 and was quickly invited to join a band, The Wichita Linemen, that performed in association with KFDI Radio. The band was a Kansas club fixture for three decades, averaging over 200 live performances a year. His daughter Amanda vividly remembers a long series of New Year’s Eve concerts at The Cotillion Ballroom in Wichita. Not only was Greg a talented singer and songwriter, he could play just about anything — banjo, bass guitar, fiddle, harmonica, keyboards, saxophone — though his instrument of choice was a hot pink electric guitar with burnt sienna, ostrich boots to match.

Greg Stevens as a member of The Wichita Linemen.
Greg Stevens as a member of The Wichita Linemen.

The Wichita Linemen released four albums in the 1970s: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch; The Wichita Linemen, Live at The Cowboy and Greg’s favorite, Alive & Kickin’ at Piqua. He booked and/or performed alongside some of country and rock music’s preeminent talents, including Junior Brown, Vince Gill, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire, but was proudest of his performances and longtime friendship with Charlie Daniels. The Linemen played their swan song on New Year’s Eve, 2000, in a Ruidoso, New Mexico, gig with The Charlie Daniels Band and, in 2014, were inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

Meanwhile, on March 13, 1974, Greg wed the love of his life, Jeannie Howland. They were happily married for just shy of 50 years and raised three successful children: Amanda Stevens, Buddy Stevens and Sammy Finnesgard. After a quarter century of near-perpetual touring, Greg and Jeannie moved to Washington state in 1999 to be closer to her brother Kenny and his family.

Greg’s day job was in radio announcement and advertising until he retired in 2018. Over the years he wrote and performed jingles that were fixtures in the Kansan and South Puget Sound soundscapes. Amanda remembers a classmate singing his “Reddi Rooter” jingle and suggesting that the songwriter must be filthy rich.

Greg served on local boards of directors including the Salvation Army, YMCA and the Olympia Master Builders Association, for which he was appointed associate council vice president and chair of the popular Big Home and Garden (now Remodel) Show. The president of the Rotary Club of Hawks Prairie from 2008 to 2009, Greg received that organization’s Service Above Self Award and the Volunteer Center’s Volunteer of the Week Award. He was twice named Olympia Master Builders’ Associate of the Year and, in 2008, led the creation of the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Festival in Lacey.

Greg succumbed to cancer and related health issues but is survived by those he treasured most: his devoted wife, three children and two grandchildren. In addition, his music and affable, indomitable, larger-than-life personality will live on in the hearts and memories of friends, fans and admirers from coast to coast.

Arrangements will be announced in the coming days.