John Roger Stemen Profile Photo

John Roger Stemen

July 27, 1931 — May 4, 2024

John Roger Stemen of Lancaster died on May 4, 2024 following a lengthy illness, at the age of 92. 

Born in Goshen, Indiana, on July 27, 1931, he was the son of John Milton and Adelaide Louise Stemen.  Roger was a 1949 graduate of Goshen High School, where he was a member of the football team.  He graduated from Yale University in 1953 where he became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. He then received his PhD at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and subsequently completed his post-doctoral studies at Harvard University. 

Roger spent two years in the U.S. Army, serving in Korea, after his graduation from Yale University.

Roger began his teaching career at the University of Delaware. In 1961, he started a lengthy tenure as a Professor of History at Gettysburg College, where he served as History Department Chair for a number of years, retiring in 1994. 

As an active member of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, Roger served on the Sessions of both congregations. He was a long-time member and officer of the Torch Clubs in Gettysburg and Lancaster and volunteered at the Lancaster County Historical Society. Roger had a life-long interest in helping others through hands-on work related to social justice, which he fulfilled through several additional volunteer commitments, including serving on the board of United Cerebral Palsy of Central Pennsylvania and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and Choices of United Disabilities Services. 

His interests included travel, reading, playing tennis, doing crossword puzzles, hiking, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.  He enjoyed making many friends over the past ten years at the Willow Valley Communities. 

Roger was married to Nancy Marie Raezer in 1959; she passed away in 2001. In 2003, he married Joan S. Blake of Millersville, who survives him.  He is also survived by two children, John Stemen of Utica, NY, and Sara Stemen Leahy (Nick) of New York, NY, and two stepdaughters, Janet Blake Allen (Paul) of Strasburg, PA, and Joan Blake Silver (Eric) of Valley Forge, PA. Also surviving are six grandchildren, Owen and Thomas Leahy; Julia, Joseph, and Blake Ressler; and Cory Allen. Roger was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Carolyn, who died in 1944. 

The family wishes to thank the diligent and kind caregivers of the Willow Valley Communities, the entire staff, Chaplain Andrew Hostetter, and the loving friends and neighbors of Willow Valley. It is with gratitude that the family recognizes the clergy and members of First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster, who have shown steadfast care and gave great comfort to Roger and his family members during his illness. 

A memorial service for Roger will be held on Saturday, June 1st at 1:30 p.m. in the Johnson Auditorium at the North building in the Willow Valley Communities led by the Rev. Dan Snyder, Lead Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster and directed by the DeBord Snyder Funeral Home.  Contributions in remembrance of Roger may be made to Lancaster County Hospice and Community Care, Development Office, 685 Good Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Roger Stemen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Memorial Service

Saturday, June 1, 2024

1:30 - 2:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Johnson Auditorium at Willow Valley

600 Willow Valley Square
Lancaster, PA 17602

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