Elton Bryson Stephens Sr.

Elton Bryson Stephens Sr. (1911–2005) was an American businessman and philanthropist from Alabama. He was the founder of EBSCO Industries.

Elton Bryson Stephens Sr.
Born(1911-08-04)August 4, 1911
DiedFebruary 5, 2005(2005-02-05) (aged 93)
OccupationBusiness executive
Known forFounder of EBSCO Industries
Net worthUS$4 billion (Stephens family, 2014)[1][2]
Spouse(s)Alys Robinson
Children4, including James T. Stephens

Early life

Stephens was born on August 4, 1911, in Clio, Alabama.[3][4] Stephens graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 1932. [5]


Stephens founded Military Service Co. in 1944, with US$5,000.[4][6][7] The company sold magazine subscriptions to the United States Army.[6] It later became known as EBSCO Industries, a diversified company in "information services, publishing and digital media, outdoor products, real estate, manufacturing and general services."[4]


Stephens established the Metropolitan Arts Council of Birmingham in 1986.[4] He donated $15 million to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, where he served as chairman of its board of trustees, and where the Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center was named after his late wife.[4] Additionally, he donated $1 million to the United Way of Central Alabama in 1997, joining their Million Dollar Roundtable.[4] He has made charitable contributions to the Birmingham Museum of Art, where the Stephens Family Gallery is named in his family's honor.[4] Moreover, the Red Mountain Expressway was renamed the Elton B. Stephens Expressway by the City of Birmingham on September 11, 1975.[4]

With his son James, Stephens donated $2.5 million to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.[4] They also donated $15 million for the construction of the Elton B. Stephens Science Center on the campus of Birmingham–Southern College.[4][8]

Personal life

Stephens was married to Alys Robinson.[7] They met as students at Birmingham-Southern College and graduated together in 1932.[9] They had two sons, Elton B. Stephens Jr. and James T. Stephens, and two daughters, Jane S. Comer and Dell S. Brooke.[7] His wife died in 1996.[7]

Death and legacy

Stephens died on February 5, 2005.[3] His son James serves as the chairman of EBSCO Industries.[7]


  1. "Which Birmingham family did Forbes name one of America's richest?". Birmingham Business Journal. Retrieved 2019-05-07.
  2. "Who are the richest Alabamians now that billionaire Marguerite Harbert has passed?". al.com. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  3. Jim Stephens, In Memoriam: Elton Bryson Stephens, 1911-2005, Serial Reviews, Volume 31, Issue 2, 2005, pp. 80-81
  4. Michael Tomberlin, Stephens family may be better known in Birmingham for generosity than $4 billion wealth, The Birmingham News, July 10, 2014
  5. "EBSCO: Building a Family Conglomerate on Values and Capital | The Family Business Consulting Group". www.thefbcg.com. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  6. America's Richest Families: Stephens family, Forbes
  7. Connor Sheets, Who are the richest Alabamians now that billionaire Marguerite Harbert has passed?, The Birmingham News, March 23, 2015
  8. "Birmingham-Southern College: Elton B. Stephens Science Center". bsc.edu. Archived from the original on 30 January 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  9. "Heart to Heart: Alumni Love Stories". www.bsc.edu. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
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