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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