Born: October 16, 1889

Died: March 17, 1949



Francis Paul Stevens was part of the bobsled team which won the silver medal at the Winter Olympics held in Lake Placid in 1932 with Ed Horton, Percy Bryant and Henry Homburger.

Plattsburgh Sentinel, January 20, 1931


First Accident On Olympic Bobsled Slide On Mt.

SARANAC LAKE, N. Y. Jan. 18 (AP)—Three persons were injured in the first serious accident on the Olympic bobsled slide on Mt. Van Hoevenberg near here today.

Miss Ethel Hoepfner, 26, of Saranac Lake suffered a possible fractured skull. Samuel White and Harry Fritz received severe shoulder injuries. A Mrs. Deforest was not injured.

The party of five had started down the slide at the half mile mark. At a sharp turn midway to the bottom, the sled left the track and overturned. The cause of the accident was not determined. Approximately 1,000 people have used the slide since it was opened a short time ago. It was estimated 200 had been using the icy coasting track today before the accident occurred. The cause of the accident was believed by officials to have been a shifting in weight on the sled or a sudden application of the brakes. The driver, Paul Stevens, local sportsman, was not hurt.

Ticonderoga Sentinel, March 24, 1949

Paul Steven's Death Closes Career Dedicated To Danger

The death last Thursday of Paul Stevens, a member of Lake Placid's "Fabulous Foursome" of Stevens Brothers, brings to an end the life of a man who apparently never knew the meaning of fear.

His was a career largely dedicated to hazardous sports whene a split second in mistiming or a misjudgment of distance could have meant disaster.

This writer knew Paul Stevens for a considerable number of years, but he first came in contact with the inborn Stevens' complete disregard of danger up at the Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled run at Placid back in 1932 and 1933 where Paul served as a brakeman on the U. S. 4-man team in the Olympics. After the games, he decided the role of handling brakes was a bit too tame for the Stevens makeup, and so — naturally — he became a driver.

We'd zoomed down the treacherous chute a number of times, but always as a "tourist" — usually from the half-mile mark, and on a couple of occasions from the mile, and always with a conservative Conservation Dept. pilot at-the wheel. Even so, it made the most hair-raising roller-coaster ride in an old-fashioned buggy in comparison.

And then one day Paul Stevens asked us how we'd like to try a ride down from the 1 1/2-mile mark, with Paul at the helm. In a moment of what was unquestionably temporary insanity, we said that would be just swell.

Well, as we rode slowly UP the mountain in a truck, we kept looking DOWN, and when we reached the top, and gazed popeyed at that long, icy. serpentine chute, we would have given a considerable number of dollars if we'd only been endowed with a considerable amount of common sense and had barked "No" to Paul's invitation a half hour before and teed off for Ticonderoga.

At any rate, we managed to climb onto the No. 2 slot on the 4-man bob, with Paul at the wheel, and a couple of other unidentified- chappies, looking like a refugee from a Class D scholastic gridiron team. Paul told us to take a firm grip on the spheroid-shaped, golfball-like contraptions with both hands, and to keep our feet in the stirrups. Such Advice was kindly, of course, but entirely unnecessary, for it would have taken a fair charge of TNT to have dislodged us from those moorings. In fact, as it turned out, they practically had to pry us loose.

Mr. Stevens took a quick glance over his shoulder, and when he yelled "no brakes" we should have had enough sense right then to have rolled off at that juncture and taken to the hills. But, unfortunately, even j at that early stage, we were 99% paralyzed mentally and physically.

Well, we won't go into any detailed description of the trip, except to recall that we sucked in our breath on that first long straighta-way, closed our eyes as the first vicious curve hurtled into view, opened them maybe twice more en route — and until we crossed the finish line and the brakes dug in we were in a complete state of suspended animation. We know that to Paul and his team-mates it was probably just a fair routine run, but in our opinion we'd easily cracked the supersonic barrier. As a matter of fact, we still insist that ONE record WAS broken in that descent. We don't believe any person EVER held his breath as long as your correspondent.

When Mr. Stevens and his genial pals finally managed to blast us loose from that sled, the ever-hospitable Mr. Stevens nonchalantly asked us if we wouldn't like to hop a-long with him in his plane to Montreal for dinner that evening. We succeeded in mustering sufficient breath to mumble a reasonably-polite refusal, and climbed dazedly into our car and started for Ticonderoga, and we assure you a buckboard could have kept pace with us the entire distance.

And the oldtimers also tell of the time 'way back about 1914, when Paul decided he wanted to learn to fly one of those new-fangled con- traptions of baling wire and canvas. He went down to Bridgeport, Conn., bought a plane and took a series of lessons. Finally the day came when the instructor told Paul he was ready for his first solo and that he should stay in the air for about 15 minutes and then make a landing.

To everyone's horror, Paul gained all altitude possible, made a couple of circles, and, navigating "by the seat of his pants," as the saying goes, he headed in the direction of Lake Placid like a homing pigeon. How he ever made it will never be known, for such a flight was just about unthinkable for the most daring and expert pilot in those salad days of aviation, but he DID make it, and landed on one of the Lake Placid's Club's fairways, with slight damage to his plane and none to the indestructible Stevens' constitution or nervous system."

The other tales about Paul Stevens sound like legend, but most, if not all of them, are factual. He was a grand guy, a constant challenger to anything that spelled risk, and somehow we imagine if Paul Stevens knew, last Thursday down in Schenectady that he was facing the Big Trip in which there is no turning back, he bore that same crinkly smile with which he met the constant hazards of a life-time which was virtually devoted to danger.

Happy landings, Paul.