By: Elizabeth Nickerson
July 4, 2013
Sopchoppy, FL--It was a sea of red, white and blue, but it was more than just patriotism that brought these folks from all across the United States to celebrate in Wakulla County.
"Everybody in the town loved him and he knew and helped build the town up," said Rebecca Stephens, a Jacksonville Resident.
People in the area call him Mr Sopchoppy, but Rebecca Stephens calls him Grandpa.
Bill Stephens died early September. He was hired to run the city's water system and quickly became the face of the community. Now, the city pays tribute to the man who started the Forth of July festival in the area.
"I think we are all honored as a family to have it dedicated in his memory and I think he would be proud to see it," said Scott Villiard, Mr. Sopchoppy's grandson.
If it wasn't for my family I don't think I could have made it through all this and my husband," said Pam Smith, Mr. Sopchoppy's daughter.
The residents and family members all wore red shirts in his memory.
"We are just glad to pick up in his footsteps and move forward," said Rick Ott, the entertainment coordinator of the festival. "It takes a whole bunch of us to do what he did on his own."
His family says his memory will live on. Every year the city says it will pay tribute to Bill Stephens on the Forth of July.