William Arthur Stern Jr., Jennifer Jane Plank Stern and Katelyn Jane Stern

William Arthur ‘Bill’ Stern Jr., 65, president and owner of Stern Produce, his wife, Jennifer Jane Plank Stern, 53, and their daughter Katelyn Jane ‘Katey’ Stern, 19, died when their plane went down shortly after takeoff from Montgomery Field in San Diego, Calif., en route to their Phoenix home Dec. 29, 2012.


Bill, a Phoenix native, was born in Phoenix on Sept. 2, 1947, to William Arthur Stern (deceased) and Norma L. Koon. He attended Encanto and Clarendon elementary schools and West Phoenix High School. He was quarterback of his high school football team, the Thunderbirds. Bill was a member of The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta at Arizona State University. He graduated from ASU and went into the family business with his mother and father. Stern Produce was established by his grandfather, William Alfred Stern in 1917.


Bill’s sense of adventure and love of sports included racing cars, skiing, swimming, golfing, boating and flying.


He is survived by his mother, Norma; his daughter Victoria ‘Tori’ (Brian) Heintzelman; his son William Arthur ‘Billy’ Stern III; his sister Linda (Chuck) Bergstrom; grandchildren Ashlyn, Brayden, Brittlee and Brantsen Heintzelman; nephews Erik (Jennifer), Christopher (Nicole) and Timothy (Aimee) Bergstrom. Grandnieces and nephews Bergstrom and the mother of Tori and Billy, Penny (Larry) Gunning and the ‘family’ associates of the Stern Produce Company.



Jennifer Jane Plank Stern was born Aug. 19, 1959, to William Dean Plank (deceased) and Mary Jane Nelson in the doctor’s office in Granby, Colo.


She graduated from Sidney High School in Sidney, Neb. She worked in Lincoln, Neb., and Breckenridge, Colo., before moving to Phoenix, where she was a flight attendant with the “new airline,” America West for 10 years. While she had many stories as a flight attendant, one of her proudest moments was when she flew the troops home from the Iraq War through Bahrain.


After marrying Bill in 1991, she retired from the airline and focused on raising Katey, leading her tennis team as team captain at PVCC and doing various charity work throughout Phoenix. Jennifer enjoyed many activities with Bill, including skiing and snorkeling, in addition to anything Katey was involved in.


Jennifer is survived by her mother, Mary Jane Nelson Plank; sister, Julie(Stan)Gray; brothers Brian(Elena)Plank and Scott Plank; nieces and nephews Jordan Alexandra, Erin Samantha Gray, McKenzie(Reyna)Plank and McKayla Plank; and family members in California, Colorado and Alaska.


Katelyn "Katey" Jane Stern was born in Scottsdale, Ariz., on July 2, 1993. She attended Hopi Elementary School, All Saints Episcopal Day School, Xavier College Prepreparatory and Arcadia High School.


She was loving her freshman year at Southern Methodist University as a Merit Scholar and was looking forward to pledging a sorority. Katey was a beautiful girl with a kind spirit and an infectious laugh.


Katey is survived by all those above who loved her and we will miss her dearly, as will her many friends.


A memorial service for them will be held at 2 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 13, 2012, at St. Barnabus on the Desert, located at 6715 North Mockingbird Lane, Paradise Valley, Ariz.


Memorials in their honor may be made to the Stern Family Memorial Foundation care of Arizona Community Foundation, 2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 405 B, Phoenix, AZ 85016.


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