Stephen and his wife, Barbara, are residents of Hugoton, Kansas, where Stephen attended and graduated from Hugoton High School in 1964. He later went on to attend Kansas State University and graduated in 1969. Stephen has served in active duty military as a pilot in the United States Air Force from 1969-1974 when he moved into reserve duty until 1991. He served on the Hugoton Board of Education from 1977-1993, as well as the KSU Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1985-1991 and served as president of that board from 1989-1991. Stephen has also served as a Senator representing the 39th District of Kansas. He was part of the the Kansas State Senate for twenty years, between 1993 and 2013, during which he served as President of the State Senate from 2005-2013. Additionally, he has been a member of the Nation Conference of State Legislators during his 20-year span as a senator, and President of that group from 2011-2012. During his time as a senator, he was also part of the Council of State Governments, and additionally served on the executive board from 1997-2013.
Stephen and Barbara have three daughters, Stephanie, Susan and Sara Beth.