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Stephan established his position as a leader in the field of function theory in 1973 by proving, with T. Sheil-Small, the Pólya-Schoenberg conjecture. His many significant contributions to this field included launching a series of international conferences in Computational Methods and Function Theory (CMFT). The first of these was held in Valparaíso, Chile, in 1989. Seven more followed over the years, with the most recent held in 2017 in Lublin, Poland. Stephan served as the leading organizer for them all. In 2001, he launched a companion journal—Computational Methods and Function Theory—and served as one of two editors-in-chief until his death.
Throughout his career, Stephan devoted much time and energy to improving the educational systems in less advantaged countries with great success, especially in Afghanistan and Chile. His strong social commitment and responsibility, his creativity, his excellent communication skills, and his true friendship will be greatly missed by colleagues and students.