Louise “Stevie” Stevenson Thomas, 95, of Santa Barbara, Calif., died Tuesday June 9, 2020.
Born Sept. 21, 1924, in Chester, S.C., Stevie was the second of two daughters to James Edward and Sallie Dixon (Cunningham) Stevenson. Her given name was Mary Louise Stevenson, but many knew her fondly as Lou, Stevie Ma’am or just Ma’am.
Always the exceptional athlete, Stevie played many sports, including basketball, swimming and even football on the Chester high school boys’ team long before it was conceivable.
After graduating from Winthrop College in Rock Hill, S.C., she began her career in education, coaching and teaching physical education and science in Sarasota, Fla. She continued her career in Columbia, S.C., where she met and married Phillip Alexander Thomas. They lived in Charleston and then Miami and Coral Gables, Fla., where they raised five children.
Stevie enjoyed many years of service with the Museum of Science Patrons, the American Cancer Society, Coral Gables Country Club boards and the Society of Southern Families, among others.
She resumed her education career as a college guidance counselor (CAP Program) at Coral Gables High School while spending 52 summers at her beloved Waukeela Camp in Eaton Center, N.H.
Her influence on several generations of young girls is surpassed only by her love of the camp’s traditions, Crystal Lake and all of the campers and staff whom she adored. With her endearing southern accent, Ma’am oversaw the lake activities, gave the daily weather report and, in her own way, influenced the good manners of all around her.
When she and Phil retired to Mount Pleasant, S.C., in 2000 she continued her summers at Waukeela and her active lifestyle at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, The Hat Ladies of Charleston, and the Newcomers Club.
After Phil’s death she continued to live in Mount Pleasant, then moved to Tampa to be near her son Chip, and eventually moved to Santa Barbara to be near three of her daughters.
She remained an avid letter writer, antique collector and sports enthusiast. She lived a full and varied life with her youthful energy, and many will remember her for her hats and lively conversations.
She was predeceased by her loving husband of 49 years Phil Thomas; her parents; infant daughter Amy Thomas; grandson Alex Thomas; and her sister Virginia Coon (Ernie).
She is survived by children, Phillip "Chip" Thomas Jr. (Lois Jordan); Sallie Ridgway (Rich)' Amanda Thomas (Jay Williams); Stevie Peters (David); and Jamie Dilweg (Anthony); grandchildren, Victoria Thomas, Elizabeth Thomas, Jenna Corliss, Kalley Ridgway, Ryan Peters, Paxton Ridgway, Peyton Dilweg, Kevin Peters, Erin Dilweg and JP Dilweg; and great-grandson Avon Corliss.
She will be greatly missed by her family, many longtime friends and hundreds of Waukeela campers and staff from all over the country and world.
The family plans interment later this year in the family plot in Chester next to her husband, parents, sister and brother-in-law.
In lieu of flowers, gifts or contributions to the American Cancer Society or the Little White Church of Eaton Center (gofundme.com/f/help-us-rebuild-our-steeple) would be appreciated by Stevie.