Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula died on Monday, May 4, 2020, at the age of 90. Shula was a longtime NFL coach and he holds the most regular season and total wins in the history of NFL and is the only head coach to lead an undefeated NFL team, which he managed in 1972. Shula is survived by his wife, Mary Anne Stephens, and five children Mike, Donna, Sharon, Anne, and Dave Shula from his first wife Dorothy Bartish. Here’s what you need to know about Shula’s wives:
Dorothy Bartish was the first wife of Don Shula. She was Painesville’s native and she died in February 1991 after an 8-year battle with breast cancer. By the time of her death, she was 57 years old. Mrs. Shula was born on August 8, 1933, and was raised by a grandmother and her father after her mother died. According to SunSentinel growing up, she attended the same catholic school as a budding football player Don Shula. “I was in the eighth grade at St. Mary’s school, and she was in the fourth, and we boys did something we shouldn’t,” he said.” This little gal squealed to the nuns.” He recalled this story at a 1987 roast in Mrs. Shula’s honor.
After earning a teaching degree from Cleveland’s Ursuline College, she taught music to second-graders, and she became reacquainted with Don Shula then a defensive back for the Baltimore Colt. Mrs. Shula then 23, left Cleveland to teach school in Hawaii, and they later celebrated their wedding on July 19, 1958. Together the couple had five children; Dave Shula born May 28, 1959, Donna born April 28, 1961, Sharon born June 30, 1962, Anne born May 7, 1964, and Mike Shula born June 3, 1965.
Mary Anne Stephens
— Joe Horrigan (@JoeHHOF) November 9, 2017
Don Shula and Mary Anne Stephens got married in October 1963. The two met at a New Year’s Day party in 1992 on Indian Creek Island, Florida, at golfer Ray Floyd’s home. They started dating that spring. Shula became Stephens’s fourth husband. Stephens was 48 at the time of her marriage and Shula was 63 with the ceremony small and private at St.Joseph’s Catholic Church in Miami Beach. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Stephens was born the fifth of six kids and grew up in a small town called Coal Hill, Arkansas, located between the Ozarks and the Arkansas River Valley. Her father was a Soybean and cotton farmer as well as a rancher and her mother worked as a nurse and Bible teacher. Stephens moved out at the age of 15 to live with her older sister, Colleen, and Colleen’s husband, who was in the military. Stephen was Shula’s fourth husband and she was previously married to John Maddox Smith when she was 18 and James Keller at the age of 24 and had a daughter and two sons from these marriages.
She met her third husband, Jackson Stephens at a political event. Stephens was rich and powerful financier from Little Rock, Arkansas and in 1991, the two divorced after a decade of marriage. Jackson Stephens was said to be worth $380 million at the time, and through the settlement, Mary Anne kept their home on Indian Creek Island, Florida, and received $1 million a year for the rest of her life. It’s the same home that Shula and Mary Anne Stephens would live in together years later, a 13300 square foot house said to be worth $4.14 million. Since Stephen’s death in 2005, Maryanne has appeared in court in alimony disputes with Stephen’s son Warren. Stephen’s is very active in various charities and has supported many different organizations. In 1990 she was named the Arkansas Citizen of the year by March of Dimes for her charity work. The award emphasized her work to help students with learning disabilities after she led a fundraiser for a national learning center at the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas. The drive raised $28 million. She also hosted a gala in Miami Beach at the Fontainebleau Hilton for the Miami Heart Institute, and as the chairwoman of the gala, Stephens raised over $400000. Her friend who later introduced Stephens to Shula, said, “Mary Anne has the ability to get people on the bandwagon and participate if she believes in a cause.”
From Sunday's game, in honor of Rams' loss protecting 1972 Dolphins' distinction as only Perfect Season in NFL history. Larry Csonka & Don Shula are left & right in the pic. In between are Joe Namath & Don's wife Mary Anne. #StillPerfect #17and0 @HeraldSports pic.twitter.com/1uhHJeKSOh
— gregcote (@gregcote) November 5, 2018
According to those close to the couple, Stephens and Shula were said to be very happy together. Sports Illustrated wrote: “Shula and Stephens smooch in public, hold hands at the dinner table, and nibble off each other’s plates.” Stephens pushed her husband to be more adventurous, “and to try things that he hasn’t done before, like dancing to rock ‘n’ roll, Zipping around in her boat and snorkeling.”
One of Shula’s friends said, “It’s great to see a guy his age in love and able to express it. Mary Anne has a way of tearing down the guard he has always had with players and everyone else. For the first time in the 20 years that I’ve known him, this defense mechanism is broken.”
The College is saddened by the passing of legendary @MiamiDolphins coach Don Shula who taught us all to succeed with hard work, integrity and class. Here he is at MDC's @MiamiFilmFest with his wife, Mary Anne.
— Miami Dade College (@MDCollege) May 4, 2020
Stephen’s sister Colleen said, “Don and Mary Anne are blissfully happy together. They have fun, hold hands. They’re romantic and have a lot of respect for each other.” She even appeared as a success story on the NutriSystem website, saying she lost 23 pounds.