Elton Stephens




Four Men


Stephan Balkenhol

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Elton Bryson Stephens Sr (born August 4, 1911 in Clio, Barbour County; died February 5, 2005) was the founder of EBSCO Industries and a Birmingham philanthropist. Stephens was the son of James Nelson Stephens and Clara Stucky Stephens. He was born and raised in the town of Clio in Barbour County, Alabama.

Stephens attended college at Birmingham-Southern from 1928 to 1932, when he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then went on to earn a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1936. Later, in 1960, he completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

Stephens married Alys Varian Robinson in 1935. The couple had two sons, J. T. Stephens and Elton Stephens Jr, and two daughters, Jane Comer and Dell Brooke.

Stephens supported himself through college by selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. He continued in this industry even after receiving his law degree. In 1944, he and his wife formed a partnership named the Military Service Company to sell magazines, personalized binders, and racks to the U.S. Armed Forces. The partnership went on to start several additional business in support of this and acquire the Hartsfield Printing Company (now EBSCO Media), bringing them together under conglomerate EBSCO Industries, Inc. in 1958.

Before passing away at the age of 93 in 2005, Stephens and his wife, who preceded him in death in 1996, spent the last few decades of their lives donating millions to charity, educational institutions, the arts and various civic causes.


A contemporary sculptor born in West Germany, and is best known for his representational works carved out of wood. While attending the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste in Hamburg between 1976 and 1982, he studied closely with Ulrich Ruckreim. Balkenhol's totem-like sculptures, which are reminiscent of Folk Art and recall medieval carving techniques, expand the traditional role of the statue by featuring everyday people rather than celebrated historical figures. Balkenhol uses a variety of woods, including poplar and Douglas fir, and crafts his works out of single blocks of wood using hammers, power saws, and chisels. The sculptures, often representing men, women, and animals, and featuring serene, expressionless faces, have been interpreted as an exploration of the relationship between the figures themselves and the spaces or locations they occupy.