Endowment fund honors longtime OSCPA member

Written on Nov 30, 2017

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Ray StephensMost history majors don’t go on to have a successful career in the accounting profession. But most history majors aren’t Ray Stephens.

“That’s just Ray, he was all in on everything he did,” said Lee Beall, CPA, longtime friend and colleague of Stephens. “He embraced his chosen profession both academically and professionally.”

Throughout his career, he made a substantial impact on the accounting profession, doing everything from teaching at the collegiate level to serving on various accountancy boards and even working at the SEC.

Stephens died in 2016 and, to honor his commitment to the accounting profession, his wife, Ann Gabriel, also a CPA and very actively involved with OSCPA, created an endowment in his name.

“I think Ray would be pleased at this news,” Gabriel said. “It’s something to give The Ohio CPA Foundation freedom and flexibility...to help advance the mission for whatever needs to be done.”

After spending his undergraduate years at the University of Georgia, he went on to earn his MBA in accounting from East Carolina University and his DBA from Harvard University.

Stephens spent most of his career in academia, and taught at The Ohio State University, Kent State University and Ohio University. His passion for the profession extended to his students, and he was awarded the Outstanding Ohio Accounting Educator award in 1995 by OSCPA and the American Accounting Association-Ohio Region.

“He set the tone with his students that this is not an easy major,” said Gabriel, an OU associate professor of accountancy. “It’s a challenging major but you’ll be well-prepared professionals when you go out in the world.”

Stephens’ passed along his passion for the profession to younger generations through his work with The Ohio CPA Foundation and The Ohio Society of CPAs. He was a popular speaker at CPE events and well known in the accounting community.

“The thing that made Ray unique as an academic was his support of the profession,” Beall said.

He was director of the School of Accountancy at OU, and created an advisory group for outside professionals. Jerry Esselstein, CPA, served on various OSCPA boards with Stephens and was the first chair of the advisory board.

“Ray worked hard and he played hard,” Esselstein said. “He had a great sense of humor, enjoyed a good laugh and was very social and gregarious to boot.”

Throughout his career Stephens earned numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions to accounting. His legacy and devotion to the profession will continue to inspire and benefit students and The Ohio CPA Foundation for years to come.

Are you interested in contributing to The Ohio CPA Foundation? Donate here.


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  1. Patricia Parker | Dec 26, 2017
    What a wonderful way to honor a man who did so much for his students and the profession. 
  2. Grant Neilley | Dec 18, 2017

    I had a lot of great professors throughout my college career at OSU, but Ray had to be one of the best, in any subject.  He was certainly the toughest, challenging his students to excellence and setting a high bar, but he was supremely fair and took a genuine interest in helping us individually to achieve our best.  Apart from whatever subject matter was involved, the mindset he helped instill has had a tremendous impact on my professional career, long after classes were out.

  3. Bob Fay | Dec 18, 2017
    Ray was a great CPA and a strong supporter of the Foundation and the Society.  Ann to honor Ray in this manner is outstanding and will continue the build the Foundation for the next generation of CPAs to follow Ray.  I miss him as well.
  4. Jerry Esselstein | Dec 18, 2017
    Ray's legacy has always been set --- Ann's addition of this endowment to the Foundation is just another tribute to a GREAT Contributor.
  5. Lynn Nichols | Dec 18, 2017
    The choice to honor Ray Stephens is truly laudable. Ray was a man I admired and respected. Our areas of specialization were different: his accountancy, and mine taxation. However, we shared a passion for ethical behavior in the profession and we had more than one long conversation about the true meaning of "professional ethics." Ray was knowledgeable, thoughtful, and always willing to share his time and knowledge with serious seekers of truth. I miss him !

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