Stephen J. Hearne


Mr. Stephen J. Hearne, 78, of Painter, drew his last earthly breath and was welcomed into the arms of Jesus on May 6, 2021. He passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his adoring family and beloved animals.

He was born in Salisbury, Md., Sept. 1, 1942, to William P. Hearne Sr. and his wife, Lucille. Some of his fondest memories were his idyllic childhood days spent in Shad Point, Md., with his maternal grandparents and family. This is most likely where his famous love of ice cream developed, as he would tell tales of everyone taking turns on hot summer days hand cranking the ice cream machine.

Always the class clown and prankster, Steve graduated from Charlotte Hall Military Academy. He went on to earn an associate degree at C.W. Post College on Long Island, N.Y., then began employment with the family business, W.P. Hearne Produce. While working for his father’s produce company, business brought him to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where, on a blind date, he met a cute local girl named Josephine Bundick. Steve married Jo in 1969 and immediately began calling the ESVA home.

Steve is survived by his wife of nearly 52 years, Jo; three children: John Hearne (Ginger, his favorite daughter-in-law), of Saltillo, Miss., Kate Hearne, of Painter, and Stacy Hearne Dobbs (Caleb), of Virginia Beach; and one brother, W.P. Hearne Jr. (Judy), of Salisbury; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Patti Sue Porter, of Kahlua, Hawaii. Also left here to continue his legacy and cherish his memory are the grandchildren he was so incredibly proud of: Lily, Hannah, Travis, Ava, Griffin, Shepard, Scarlett, and Jackson.

Many know Steve from his numerous years managing J.E. Bundick Store in Painter, then Threads Mens Clothing Store in Onley and Pocomoke. After he closed those businesses, he worked as the Director of Chesapeake Bay ASAP, his last position before retirement.

Steve was fiercely dedicated to Station 12, Painter Volunteer Fire Dept., where over the years he served as a firefighter, chairman of the board of directors, chief, president, and bingo caller, a favorite position he immensely enjoyed. From his perch he would not only call bingo numbers, but would also lovingly heckle the regular players with his famous gift of gab.

In addition to being a trustee, board member, and active member of Painter Garrison’s United Methodist Church, he was a charter member of the Peninsula Tractor Organization. Steve was also a past member of the Wachapreague Masonic Lodge and proud member of TTNCFC (The Tuesday Night Carving and Flatulence Club) which met weekly for many years at the home of his dear friend, carver Bobby Swain, and included Bev Hornsby, Carroll Lee Marshall, and a variety of other colorful carving characters.

Everything about Steve was larger than life – the man himself, his huge fierce love and dedication to his God and to his beloved wife Jo, children, grandchildren, and friends, and his big bellowing voice and laughter. You would always know when Steve was near – you’d hear his loud resounding voice, and his raucous laugh reverberating through the room. He was a genuine, honest, humble man, a lovable jokester with a heart of gold who over the years committed so many unseen acts of love and goodwill for so many people, there is no way to ever know the extent of his deeds. As so many have said about him, “He was a character,” and indeed he was – the very best kind.

Steve was a son, brother, husband, father, and Poppy – he was a friend to hundreds of people who have prayed unceasingly for his earthly physical healing. Praise God, he is now truly healed, in Heaven, free of pain, and is joyfully reunited with all his loved ones and friends who have been waiting to get one of his big bear hugs and hear his latest corny jokes.

A celebration of Steve’s life will be held Saturday, May 15, at 2 p.m., in the large field behind Painter Garrison’s UMC on Main Street in Painter (rain date is Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m.) This is a public service open to anyone who knew and loved him. If possible, please bring your own chair. In honor of Steve’s lifelong fondness of ice cream, an ice cream social will be held outside directly following the celebration.

Memorial donations in his honor can be made to PGUMC, c/o Connie Campbell Treasurer, Painter, VA 23420, Painter Volunteer Fire Department, Wayside Drive, Painter, VA 23420, or to the Peninsula Tractor Organization, c/o Laurie Dryden, 8104 Sunset Cove Road, Exmore, VA 23350 or

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore.
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