Casey Stephenson, owner of Warner Company Jewelers in Fresno, Calif., died Tuesday after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 52.
Although his life was taken early, he lived a life that was full and courageous. He started working in the jewelry business at age 14, doing general maintenance and quickly worked his way into a sales position. By the time he was 22 years old, Stephenson owned his own jewelry stores in Lemoore and Hanford, called Casey’s Jewelers. He managed all aspects of the company, including sales, watch repair, accounting, and marketing.
In 1993, Stephenson acquired Warner Company Jewelers from the Warner family and moved the store to Fig Garden Village in Fresno that year. Stephenson’s goal was to create a store that would allow the Fresno community the upscale shopping that they deserved. In 2007, he moved the store to the corner of Palm and Herndon in Fresno. The new location has become known as the largest independent luxury jeweler in the region. His company grew to nearly 50 employees and repeated honors as “Best Jewelry Store” in Fresno and was honored nationally in Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country Magazines.
Under Casey’s leadership, Warner Co. has become closely involved with several organizations dedicated to promoting ethics and honesty in all industry business practices, including the California Jewelers’ Association, Jewelers of America, Jewelers’ Vigilance Committee, Diamond Council of America, and Leading Jewelers of the World. Casey’s ultimate ambition was to provide unparalleled service and a memorable experience for every client that came through his doors.
His legacy will continue with his family’s ongoing ownership of Warner Co.
“Casey always focused on the future and what is possible. He had a vision for the development of a high-end shopping center at Palm and Herndon avenues which we will be proud to build in his honor,” said Don Wolfe, chief financial officer of Warner Co.
Stephenson is survived by his mother, Virginia, son, Cameron, and daughter Lindsi, all of Fresno.
“My father worked hard to grow Warner Company into what it is today,” said Lindsi Stephenson, who has worked along side her father for several years. “I’ll miss my father. But I know he died making his dreams a reality.”
Mitch Allee of Fresno, founder of Allegiant Air, said he is still reeling from news of the loss. “Casey was a man of exceptional vision and incredible dignity and sensitivity, a man who gave so generously of himself to the community, to his friends, to his customers and to his employees.”
John Emerzian said that losing one of his best friends is painful for him and will be felt by the overall community. “Casey thought giving back to the community was as important as profit. He thought that the civic responsibility of a businessman should be greater than what you earn.”
Through Warner Company, Casey has supported hundreds of local charities and actively encouraged all Warner Company employees to become involved with community organizations that were meaningful to them. Jane Papazian of Fresno said Stephenson will be sorely missed. “Casey was so eager to help anyone who asked. His death comes as a shock. Frankly, it’s hard to accept.”
Maritza Solano-Lazar, CEO of Warner Co., said, “Casey had the belief that we are all called to be of service to others in small and big ways. He strived to be an integral part of the community in a public way, as well as by making anonymous gifts to lesser known charitable organizations and individuals. Having been blessed with success, he felt obligated to give back in equal measure. I have lost my mentor and my friend.”
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the California Cancer Center, 7257 N Fresno St., Fresno, CA 93720. The family is planning a private Memorial Service.