2016-10-13 / Life in Leelanau

Spending some time with Stacie, Richard Stephenson


RICHARD AND Stacie Stephenson are shown on the deck of their present home on north Lake Leelanau, from which they can view progress on the home they are building at Celebration Point. RICHARD AND Stacie Stephenson are shown on the deck of their present home on north Lake Leelanau, from which they can view progress on the home they are building at Celebration Point. Editor’s note: Following is an interview conducted with Richard and Stacie Stephenson, who are building the new home on north Lake Leelanau that has created such a buzz. Alan Campbell interviewed the Stephensons.

Enterprise: Mr. Stephenson, your construction project is the talk of Leelanau County. How big will your new home be?

Richard: It’s a lovely and warm six bedroom home for our family that includes five children and their spouses and our eight grandchildren, all of whom have grown up here. I’m hoping there will be more grandchildren.

Enterprise: Why here, on Lake Leelanau, at Cemetery Point?

Stacie: We currently call the property Celebration Point.

Richard: Here’s the reason. We believe in kicking the tires, lighting the fires and getting on down the road in the celebration of life. That is how we live. That was my dad’s saying.

Enterprise: So you’ve had a long love affair with Leelanau County?

Richard: My first memories of life were here as a 2-year-old. It turns my heart, and it does for all my children. My mother, her brother and her sister grew up here. Her grandfather was first here in 1895. We rented the property that was known as Cemetery Point for years, and tried to buy it for decades.

Enterprise: Your building permit shows Easling Construction as your general contractor. Have you worked with Marty Easling before?

Richard: Yes, he’s terrific. He’s the best for a reason. He did this deck (pointing to the deck at their present home east of the Leland Golf Course). We know Marty very well. He has a woodshop less than a mile from here, and his woodmaking is spectacular.

Stacie: We did go through an extensive process of looking nationwide for the best contractors, landscape architects, and designers. We went through an extensive evaluation process and wanted to keep our minds open. And everybody we hired is local.

Enterprise: You have chosen perhaps the finest shoreline on Lake Leelanau for your project. Have you been eyeing the property for awhile?

Richard: Yes. We tried to make it work with the existing building (but) the property deserves a home of some consequence, because the land is of consequence.

Stacie: We didn’t have a vision of what we wanted when we bought the property, so we didn’t hurry. Once we decided we wanted to proceed, it came with rapid fire. but we were both ready at the same time. Only last summer we were interviewing (contractors). I think the architect was only hired at this time last year. Marty didn’t come until about this time last year.

Enterprise: It appears that the building will be spectacular. What are some of the features you are most proud of?

Richard: Indoor plumbing (straight faced, then laughing). If you come to our homes, you’ll know they are warm and beckoning homes that a happy family lives in.

Stacie: I think the thread for me was that the entry to the home from the road was as beautiful as the lakeside. We visited lots of lake homes, and I learned that some homes weren’t as beautiful from the street and all the beauty was on the lake side, and that never set well for me. The roof lines are spectacular. I love round, so you are going to see a lot of round things. And light.

Enterprise: We’ve heard all sorts of rumors about what the building will be used for. Have you heard them?

Richard: Someone at the building site said they heard it was going to be built for Trump. Someone said it was going to be a rehab clinic. But I confirm that it’s going to be our family home.

Enterprise: Building a home requires a lot of input.

Stacie: Everbody tells you how intense it is to build a home. Well, it is.

Enterprise: Local talk has it that you are the person behind the Cancer Centers of America corporation, which includes several hospitals across the country. Is that your major business interest?

Richard: No, and it’s not our business. It’s the calling of a young man who doesn’t feel he should have lost his mother to cancer, and believes she should not have died. I’ve sworn to change the nature of cancer. My mother died in 1982 … it took me six years of research to learn what cancer patients value. Know that in the life of a patient, and you will be able to serve them better. She was denied an option, an option I believe would have saved her life with a vaccine... We are the site for more second opinions than anywhere.

We’ve had a lucky life. Our banking business has been very good. We are trying to give back with what we have.

Enterprise: Once built, how much time do you plan to spend in your new house?

Richard: As much as we can. There is no place like Leland. Our reality is that we are a global banking family, and we don’t have a lot of time to visit.

Enterprise: Do you have a boat or boats?

Stacie: We’re both water people, no doubt. And outdoor people. I’ve been thrown from every sort of vehicle. boats, motorcycles, horse carriages, ski lifts. You name it.

Richard: We have a fleet of wooden boats right here, our little Hacker crafts. John Hacker was the architect for Chris-Craft.

Enterprise: When in Leelanau County, what do you do for fun?

Stacie: It’s a respite. It’s a getaway. Boating, everything is about the lake. And we entertain.

Enterprise: What are your favorite restaurants?

Dick: The Bird, (Fischer’s) Tavern.

Stacie: Mine is La B├ęcasse.

Dick: And the Italian restaurant across the way, Funistrada.

Enterprise: Do you belong to any organizations in Leelanau County?

Richard: I’m a sponsoring member here of Fishtown Preservation, and of course we belong to the Leelanau Conservancy. We’re a community centered family, and when there is a need we help.

Enterprise: It’s obvious that you and your wife are close partners. How and when did you two meet?

Richard: She was the director of a medical practice in Indianpolis, and some of the (Cancer Centers of America) doctors had heard her lecture. And she was brilliant.

Stacie: They invited me to present ...

Richard: At one of our hospitals. They called me and asked if I would conduct an interview on the phone. And they were right. She was speaking well beyond where normal medicine practices ...

They called her to talk and asked if she would lecture. It happened that I could be there that day. I didn’t know what she looked like — she had a great voice, never seen a photo, nothing ... I get off the elevator and here she stands, with one of the executives. I said, “Are you Dr. Micari? Welcome.” I hugged her and dropped my brief case.

Stacie: I had no idea who he was. I knew what my presentation was, but I was not thinking like a business executive and didn’t know who the owners were. I’m truly thinking, ‘Who is this man?’ The hug was interesting.

I start and my world changes. They introduce him. Oh, my, this man who I just met in the hallway is apparently an important person.

Enterprise: Can you tell us about your family?

Richard: We have five children, four of whom are married with children. One is an unmarried 23-year-old daughter without children. We have eight grandchildren, and in that mix there are five brilliant young men and three dynamite young ladies.

Enterprise: So what is the best thing about your building a new home on Lake Leelanau?

Richard: My family, and my bride is dynamite. I’m so lucky, and family driven, and now a new home in Leland.

Stacie: That home is our love story.

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