A Life Lived: Samuel Lawrence Stevens among the last of the old-time TV repairmen

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Samuel Lawrence Stevens enjoyed fixing and saving broken TVs. It was his life’s work. Stevens worked for R&M Radio & TV for 30 years before retiring as the owner and operator of his own business, Stevens TV Service in downtown Elizabethton.

Contrary to what most people think, the television that we know of today is actually not the original concept of a television. Because of technology, television sets have undergone major evolution to what is now known as the LCD TV, flat screens or even smart TV. Thus, this leaves the old version of CRT TVs to possible extinction.

These days a broken TV means a trip to Best Buy or Wal-Mart for a new one. Electronics have become harder to fix, resulting in TV repair being a dying art.

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But, at one time when the TV went on the blink, you called the repairman. TV repair was not only an art for Lawrence Stevens, it was how he made his living. Stevens’ shop was probably among the last TV repair shops downtown, and it was not unusual for him to make house calls.

Stevens enjoyed fixing things, especially TVs and radios. He had some schooling from time to time when he worked at R&M, but it was pretty much a natural for him “He stayed busy and always had plenty of work,” said his wife, Phyllis.

Samuel Lawrence Stevens died June 18 at the age of 75, but he had closed his business several years ago due to ill health.

Stevens grew up on Brown’s Branch in Hampton, one of 16 children. All of his brothers and sisters preceded him in death.

Lawrence and Phyllis would have been married 54 years today. They had lived at their Willow Springs home on Stoney Creek for over 53 years.

In addition to his TV repair business, Stevens enjoyed serving as a volunteer fireman with the Stoney Creek Volunteer Department. “He had been a volunteer fireman for 18 years. He enjoyed his time with the fire department and the camaraderie with the other firemen,” said Phyllis.

Stevens was a people person as well as a fun-loving person. However, his passion was for the outdoors. “We did a lot of camping at one time. Our favorite places to camp were Little Wilbur Campground, Roan Mountain, and Pigeon Forge,” Phyllis shared.

When Stevens wasn’t working, he enjoyed fishing and often attended the car races at Bristol. His favorite driver was Bill Elliott.

“My husband was a Ford man and always owned a Ford. He kept a Ford truck to the end,” Phyllis said.

Stevens also enjoyed gardening. “Each year he grew a vegetable garden. He enjoyed both growing and eating vegetables,” Phyllis shared.

He also took pride in his home and yard. “Lawrence enjoyed mowing and always kept a neat yard,” his wife shared.

Both Phyllis and her husband attended Willow Springs Baptist Church, where they were long-time members. “He loved his church and his church family, and they loved him,” Phyllis said.

Lawrence Stevens was one of those people, who never made a lot of noise, never laid any claim to fame, but those who knew him remember him as a good neighbor, a fine Christian gentleman, and there are some, who still remember him as the TV repairman.