Remembering Edwina Stephens

By: Letisha Bush Email
By: Letisha Bush Email

UPDATE 6-13 at 6:30pm By Candace Sweat

A Tallahassee legend is laid to rest today. Friends and family came together to say their goodbyes and celebrate the life of Edwina Stephens.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Sanctuary at Bethel AME church this afternoon. The mood was somber, but there were also lots of smiles and even some comic relief.

It was a reminder to celebrate Stephens' life; not dwell on how she died.

The sanctuary was filled with music. It was also filled with memories.
Memories of a son who recalls the last advice he got from his mother.

"Turn off the television. Sit at the table and talk to your family," said Stephens' son Charles Stephens.

At 86 years old, Edwina Stephens was laid to rest. Stephens died last week in a head on crash on Pensacola street. But those who knew her best say the way she lived eclipses the circumstances of her death.

"She was about loving. You act, and you act like a human being. You show love toward a person, not based upon color or race, or politics, but on their human condition," said Charles.

"I know of no other person that helped mold my thinking and character and my leadership ability than Edwina Stephen," said former state senator, Al Lawson.

Stephens was a FAMU graduate and also a retired nurse. Many people I've spoken with since her death, including local politicians, said she was the one who kept them on track and held them accountable.

Stephens was a superstar in the community. A civil rights activist who participated in the Tallahassee bus boycott, and community activist who crusaded to revitalize Tallahassee's south side.

To her loved ones she was so much more; a person with very big shoes to fill.

"That's what my mother had hoped her life. That someone would come and continue her legacy. Cause she did the right things for the right reasons," said Charles Stephens.

Stephens was a FAMU graduate and also a retired nurse. Many people I've spoken with since her death, including local politicians, said she was the one who kept them on track and held them accountable.

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Rain poured over Florida A&M University as the Tallahassee community said goodbye to Edwina Stephens.

Mayor John Marks spoke at the Memorial:

"Mrs. Douglas Edwina Stephens was one of the brightest lights, I have ever known."

City leaders, family and friends gathered at FAMU for her memorial and public viewing Sunday (6-12.) Her family says they will always remember her as a strong foundation.

Stephen's Niece Phyllis Martin says:

"But my auntie was always the one you went to when you really wanted to make things smooth and calm and to handle something because that what she was... the handler"

Stephens' family says she loved Tallahassee and was an advocate and supporter of the Southside community. As a civil rights and political activist Stephens was always advocating for her community.

Samella Abdulla was a friend of Stephen's:

"She would go to the commission meetings, she was always at city hall. She was always pro something needed to be done and educating us on this needs to happen."

A friend says she's learned valuable lessons from Stephens' life, but this one she will never forget.

"If you want something to get done, do it, and do it yourself. Don't wait for someone else to get it done. That's the way she was."

The Funeral service will be this morning (6-13) AT Bethel AME Church at 11 a.m. A public viewing will be held prior to the Funeral Service from 9:00 a.m - 10:45 a.m.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous Location: Atlanta on Jun 16, 2011 at 08:56 PM
    Mrs. Stephens reminds us that instead of worshiping celebrity and false idols, we need to realize that great people walk amongst us every day. They do the work because it needs to be done, not because of the notoriety it brings. We all need to be more open to recognizing those we come in contact with who have true strength of character. Only then can we have the chance of developing those same characteristics within ourselves. I will miss this beautiful soul and am thankful that she touched my life.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Jun 13, 2011 at 09:21 PM
    Mrs. Stephens doesn't fit into the categories of famous or celebrity because she sought neither. Hers was a dignified and meaningful courage. She only stood up to be noticed when she was speaking on behalf of others. With her passing, we have lost a great advocate for the rights of human beings to live with dignity, and we have lost someone who could fight with dignity and integrity. If you knew her, you learned about life, and you observed the meaning of the term "class act." She is one of the last to carry these banners, and she will be missed. We need more like her now.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Jun 13, 2011 at 09:21 PM
    Mrs. Stephens doesn't fit into the categories of famous or celebrity because she sought neither. Hers was a dignified and meaningful courage. She only stood up to be noticed when she was speaking on behalf of others. With her passing, we have lost a great advocate for the rights of human beings to live with dignity, and we have lost someone who could fight with dignity and integrity. If you knew her, you learned about life, and you observed the meaning of the term "class act." She is one of the last to carry these banners, and she will be missed. We need more like her now.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 13, 2011 at 01:09 PM
    I don't think she was "famous", but she was someone who wanted what was best for our community. I met her a few years back while working for the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Dept. A very nice woman. I found out about her life as a nurse (one of the 1st black nurses at TMH) and the other things she did for the "south side" after her passing.
  • by how famous is she Location: tally baby on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:34 AM
    never heard of her when she was alive.
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