Grace Mae Stevens, 97, passed from this life on April 2, 2018 in Stillwater, OK. Funeral services will be 9:30am on Saturday, April 7, 2017 at the Strode Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will follow at 3:30pm at Highland Cemetery in Durant, Oklahoma.
Grace was born August 16, 1920, in a log cabin near Ripley, Oklahoma, to Ollie Mae (Knotts) and Joseph Aaron Hilton. She grew up in the Stillwater area, graduating from Eureka School with the class of 1939. As a farm girl, she helped older siblings with outside chores and loved gardening and tending the animals. Fond memories included horseback riding, spending time in town at her grandmother’s (Sarah Jane Knotts) on Lewis Street, feeding out calves and turkeys, and enjoying everyday activities with her younger sister, Aileen.
On June 28, 1941, she married James Roy Stevens, shortly after his graduation from Oklahoma A&M College (OSU). They purchased a farm in Utica, near Durant, Okla., and as a young bride, she helped with a full array of farm work, from planting oats in the field to slopping hogs and feeding cattle. She also taught seventh and eighth grades, on a temporary teaching certificate, at Utica School because World War II had caused a shortage of teachers.
A daughter, Vera Kathryn, was born in 1946 followed by a son, James Allen, in 1948. A second son, David Lynn, was born in 1956.
Grace’s first opportunity to start college came when her second child started school. After she finished her first two years at Southeastern State College, her husband was transferred as a soil scientist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to Tahlequah, where Grace completed her degree in nutrition and elementary education at Northeastern State College in 1958. Soon after, she accepted employment at Warner Elementary School, where she taught third grade for 26 years until her retirement. She was honored as Teacher of the Year and touched the lives of many students.
Grace’s purpose in life was to help others, and she will be remembered for her compassionate heart and fun-loving personality. She served as superintendent of the junior department at Warner First Baptist Church. She also took an active role in various organizations such as Eastern Star, American Legion Auxiliary, Extension Homemaker groups, Delta Kappa Gamma, and Retired Educators Association. She served as a chaperone for the Warner delegates attending the State FHA Convention in Oklahoma City for many years and worked with youth involved in 4-H and FFA at the local and county levels. After retirement, she served as a tour guide on several trips to Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, and other points of interest in the U.S.
She was the “ultimate” grandmother to her granddaughter and three grandsons. “GG” hosted them for fun weeks during the summers as they grew up. In 1992, she moved to Stillwater to be near family and often accompanied her oldest grandson on his paper route. She voluntarily served as “laundry lady” for two grandsons as they earned their degrees at OSU and loved fixing their favorite foods, because after all, they were “starving college students away from home.” Her grandchildren rewarded her with much love and devotion, and her first great grandchild was named after her. She made flannel receiving blankets for all eight great grandchildren, and she experienced great joy in watching them grow.
In addition to having a career, Grace was a wonderful homemaker. She was a talented seamstress, gardener, and cook. She was capable of whipping up a meal on short notice for a visiting preacher, out-of-town visitors, or friends of her kids. Friends and relatives always sought her counsel and help when they found themselves in difficult situations. She was a born optimist with a can-do attitude and will be greatly missed by all who loved and knew her.
Grace was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years, son David Lynn who died of leukemia at age 2 ½, her parents, sister Aileen Hiner, and six half siblings: Mable Holderman, John Stafford, Bill Stafford, Cora Borhn, Nora Schoonover, and Betty King.
Survivors include her children Kathryn (Kim) Anderson of Stillwater and Jim (Deborah) Stevens of Nacogdoches, Texas; four grandchildren Jill (Dan) Rucker of Tulsa, Steven (Heather) Anderson of Rockwall, Texas; Beau (Mary) Stevens of Plano, Texas, and Dustin (Tiffany) Stevens of Nacogdoches, Texas, and eight great grandchildren: Gracie, Gabby, and Libby Rucker; Ellie and Ace Anderson: Brek and Parker Stevens; and Allie Stevens; and several nieces and nephews.
Condolences may be emailed to the family and an online obituary may be viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com