[UPDATE] Funeral Set for Edwina Stephens

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

[UPDATE] 06-12-11 6:02PM by Letisha Bush--

A public viewing and memorial service was held at Florida A&M University for community activist, Edwina Stephens.

Mayor John Marks and Leon County Schools Superintendent Jackie Pons were there among many city leaders, family and friends.

UPDATED 06-09-11 at 10:45pm By Candace Sweat

Charles Stephens says even up until her last moments, his mother, Edwina Stephens was trying to make a difference.

"She was on her way to see Jackie Pons when she had her car accident, to try to get transportation for disadvantaged kids on the south side to be bused over to McClay pools for swimming lessons," said Charles Stephens.

87-year-old Stephens was a superstar in Tallahassee - known as a civil rights and political activist, and advocate for the south side.

"My mom never met a stranger. If she thought she could help you, she would help you help yourself," said Stephens.

Her loved ones say Edwina had a standard of excellence that was evident even in her family life. Of her three kids, one was a valedictorian, one is a math whiz, and the third is an Ivy League graduate.

"She was lion. I there was something that she was advocating for and wanted to happen, she was going to make sure it happened."

Charles says what his mother wanted for their family, she wanted for all families. From her days as a FAMU graduate, to her career as a nurse, it was all about service.

Stephens' funeral will be held Monday, June 13th at 11am at Bethel AME Church on Wahnish Way. Sunday is the community wide memorial service at Lee Hall Auditorium at 3:30P-M. The public viewing will be held the same day from noon to 3:15 at Lee Auditorium
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UPDATED 06-09-11 at 6:30pm by Jerry Askin

Memorial services have been set for long time community activitst Edwina Stephens.

Stephens died in a car accident in Tallahassee earlier this week. Her funeral will be held Monday, June 13th at 11am at Bethel AME Church on Wahnish Way.

Stephens' funeral will be held Monday, June 13th at 11am at Bethel AME Church on Wahnish Way. Sunday is the community wide memorial service at Lee Hall Auditorium at 3:30P-M. The public viewing will be held the same day from noon to 3:15 at Lee Auditorium
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UPDATED 6-7-11 at 11:20 By Candace Sweat

Sharon Sams didn't know the conversation she had with her friend Monday night would be their last.

"She called me last night to thank me for watering her lawn while she was gone and she was letting me know that she really appreciated it, and that she loved me," said Sams.

86-year-old Edwina Stephens, Sams' friend of 57 years, died Tuesday afternoon when her car collided head on with another vehicle on Pensacola Street.

"She was just a wonderful woman and always wanting to let everyone know how special they were," said Sams

The news sent shock waves through the community as officials and residents got the news. To them, the city had lost an icon.

"She was fearless. She was tireless in her advocacy," said Mayor John Marks.

"She was very active in the neighborhood association, very active in the church, is a person that can really get things done," said Senator Al Lawson.

Stephens achieved celebrity status in Tallahassee for her tireless work as a civil rights leader, nurse, and community activist.

And she especially had a soft spot for the South Side - as it was often at the forefront of her concerns--a trademark of her kidness that she told us about back in 2003.

"To me, the only way that you can revitalize a community is to do the whole community, and try to get rid of all those negatives that lowers the quality of life for the citizens," said Stephens in an interview back in 2003.

The Tallahassee community is left with fond memories and very big shoes to fill.

Stephens was a graduate of Florida A & M University. She also had a local park dedicated in her honor.

Her daughter, Alice Stephens released a statement to Eyewitness News: she says her mother loved Tallahassee and loved the south side.
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[UPDATE] 6-7-2011 5:58 pm

TPD Investigates Traffic Crash Resulting in Fatality

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Police officers responded to a traffic crash in the 2100 block of West Pensacola Street this morning at approximately 11:09AM. Officers located the crash and determined a westbound Toyota had been traveling in the inside lane of traffic when it crossed the center lane and entered the path of Volkswagen traveling in the inside eastbound lane, resulting in a near head-on collision. Ms. Edwina Stephens was the sole occupant of the Toyota, and Mr. Wade Maller was the sole occupant of the Volkswagen. Both drivers were transported to TMH via ambulance. Ms. Stephens succumbed to her fatal injuries at the hospital. Mr. Maller had no serious injuries but was evaluated by hospital staff. The crash remains under investigation; therefore no additional information is being released at this time.

“Edwina Stephens was a wonderful woman and a vibrant and active part of our community. She will be greatly missed,” said Chief Dennis Jones.

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[UPDATE] 6-7-2011 5:55 pm

State Representative Alan Williams Statement on Edwina Stephens

State Representative Alan Williams today issued the following statement:

"Edwina Stephens will be remembered as the community voice of justice that she was. She devoted her life to those struggling for equality. She has been a great inspiration to many over the years and she will rest as an important icon to the Civil Rights Movement in Florida’s history.

I will miss Mother Stephens dearly; she remained a friend and never hesitated to tell me or anyone when she thought we weren’t fighting hard enough for justice. She will be forever known as the “Mother of the Southside”. I was honored to be a classmate with her in the City of Tallahassee Neighborhood Leadership Academy. She was a remarkable woman and our community and state’s progress in civil rights was greatly served by her life’s work."

A flag will be flown over the State Capitol in honor of Ms. Edwina Stephens, a dedicated constituent of District 8. Our state will never forget her efforts to make our community a more compassionate, welcoming and just society.

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[UPDATE] 6/7/11 5:41pm by Amy Long

Community activist and well known Tallahassee resident, Edwina Stephens was killed in a head on crash just before lunch hour Tuesday.

It happened on West Pensacola Street near White Drive just after 11 o'clock Tuesday morning.

Construction workers, just feet from the accident say Stephens was headed west on Pensacola when her car drifted across the west bound lanes and hit a black car coming the other way.

Workers say they didn't hear screeching tires, only a hard impact. "This car came over and swerved all the way across the middle lane, you know, and ran right into this guy coming into on coming traffic and hit head on. Driver to driver side." says witness, Josh Collier.

Collier says they called 911 and helped the other driver get out of his car. Collier says he tried to help Stephens, but she was pinned in the driver's seat.

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[UPDATE] 6-7-2011 4:55 pm

Mayor's Statement on the Passing of Ms. Edwina Stephens

Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee Mayor John Marks issued the following statement in response to the passing of Ms. Edwina Stephens:

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Edwina Stephens, one of Tallahassee’s greatest community leaders.

For decades, she was a tireless advocate for improving our quality of life. Tallahassee is a better community because of Ms. Stephens and her life’s work.

Ms. Stephens loved Tallahassee but had a particular and steadfast love for the south side. She was a champion for neighborhood preservation, cultural development, and civil rights. She was fearless and tireless in making sure that all were treated equally and with dignity.

Ms. Stephens is a true icon and her legacy and impact will never be forgotten. She will be sorely missed.”

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[UPDATE] 6-7 4:45pm -

Edwina Stephens daughter, Alice Stephens, tells WCTV that her mother loved Tallahassee. None of Stephens' immediately family members currently live in our area. Alice gave us this quote about her mother: “She loved Tallahassee and she loved the Southside.She loved being a voice for the community.” Anyone who knows Edwina Stephens knows how much she loved gardening. Alice says Edwina had been working in her yard at home earlier Tuesday before the accident.

Edwina Stephens was a also a longtime member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. The church's pastor, Revered Laughton Thomas says "She has been a member of this church for more than 50 years and we are saddened by the loss.”

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[UPDATE] 6-7 2:45pm -

Community Activist Edwina Stephens dies in a fatal accident on W. Pensacola Street.

Stay with WCTV for details.

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Tallahassee, Florida - June 7, 2011 -

TPD responded to a serious traffic crash in the 2200 block of West Pensacola Street at approximately 11:09 this morning. One driver was transported to TMH with serious injuries, where she later succumbed to those injuries. The other driver was not seriously injured, but was transported to TMH for evaluation. Driver information will be released following notification of family. More information will be provided when it is available.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Andrea Welcome Location: C. Islip, Ny on Feb 27, 2012 at 11:17 PM
    Dear Charles, thanks for sharing your mom with our community. I remember your mom and her kindness. May God bless your family and someone to carry on her dreams.
  • by Charles Stephens Location: Tallahassee FL on Jun 14, 2011 at 07:27 AM
    I want to thank everyone for the love and support that has been shown my family during this difficult time. The staff at Tillman Funeral Home - Al and Pinky Hall - outperformed our expectations. President James Ammons, the administration of Florida A&M University and Dr. Julian White were unbelievable in their generosity, performance and kindness. Thank you, WCTV for your professionalism and coverage of her homegoing. Edwina Stephens was an icon. If you didn't know her, it only means you were not actively involved in the many community issues that confront Tallahassee at the public sector level. She held our politicians accountable. One of the speakers at her memorial correctly made the correlation among property value, crime and the beautification of the city. Upgrading infrastructure, installing sidewalks, cleaning up our neighborhoods, fighting crime, and improving our schools increases area property values. Crime and drug traffic in well-kept areas is lower. Drugs dealers don't gravitate toward well kept neighborhood where there activities stand out. Tallahassee, my mother was never able to "solve" these issues by herself. She couldn’t. The task was too large. But she would shine her light on a problem so that all could see and she would never, never, never give up until she mobilized a team that accomplished the task. She enabled others to see that they too could contribute to the solution. Imagine if we all acted with half the vigor of Edwina Stephens. Imagine how much safer, more valuable and how more beautiful Tallahassee could be. Charles Stephens
  • by CarterBurke Location: Tallahassee on Jun 10, 2011 at 07:03 AM
    Sorry for this old dame. But, but, there's a pool at McLean park on the Southside! Why bus kids all over Tallahassee to other pools? From the road it looks like a nice set-up. My son has asked to go there to swim, but I said no, we'd not be welcome and there could be trouble. You figure out the rest.
    • reply
      by Charles Stephens on Jun 11, 2011 at 07:41 AM in reply to CarterBurke
      Mom, was working to secure safe transportation to McLean Park for children in the Nims Middle Schools. Be certain, if she was proposing she had carefully considered and weighed the pros and cons. Have courage CarterBurke. Being welcomed at any public facilities you choose to patronize often is contingent on how you feel about your own self worth. Be like my mother. Have courage, speak out, and fight for your rights. And most of all, get the job done even if you have to do it yourself.
  • by TallyTrashTalks2 Location: Tallahassee on Jun 8, 2011 at 08:25 PM
    Through so many years Mrs. Stephens dedicated much tireless effort into making the Tallahassee community better for all of us I thank her! Let’s not forget or become overshadowed, by an accident that could have happened to any of us regardless of age, the numerous contributions this incredible woman made for the hope of making things better for others. My thoughts and sympathy are with her family.
  • by flaborn70 Location: Tallahassee on Jun 8, 2011 at 03:08 PM
    I only regret that I didn't get to have more contact with such a wonderful woman. She was a strong presence with a warm, positive spirit. For those questioning her age, anyone who knew her will tell you she got around and handled her business better than some folks half her age. There will never be another like her. My condolences to the family.
  • by Joan L. Fuller Location: New York on Jun 8, 2011 at 01:01 PM
    Dolphincat & S. Ann - go easy ppl. You obviously do not have independent, elderly family members in your lives. As much as we love them, the hardest thing for them to give up is their independence, which they have had all of their adult lives, longer than you & I have been around. Their mind tells them they are still capable of handling situations but their reflexes and bodies show otherwise. Unless we as the sandwich generation are willing and ABLE to drastically modify our lives to incorporate the adjustments necessary to meld their lifestyle with ours,our dear loved ones, there will be times in their lives when their independent, intelligent minds have them continue to make decisions about how they will live their lives. Essentially, the older generation is telling us - I can do it myself. Role reversal from when we told them as toddlers, that we could handle it. We couldn't, but we tried. The older generation tries too!. Now about Mrs. Stephens - she was a wonderful & STRONG, black woman, a trailblazer who will be missed. Our deepest condolences to the family and an ounce of empathy from those who do not work closely or have older family members to care for. It's ashame how her life ended, but her "body" was just a conduit for her soul. Her soul will be missed because she touched the lives of so many.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 8, 2011 at 03:34 PM in reply to Joan L. Fuller
      But does that make it right? If someone's health is diminishing with age and it is unsafe for them to be on the road, but no one wants to take their independence away from them, does that mean it's okay? In this case I would say no.
  • by Saddned on Jun 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM
    I didn't know the lady. But I am deeply saddened by her loss. Considering what this article and the replies convey of her work and her efforts - and the current problems on the south side with crime and drugs and . . all the rest . . it just breaks my heart, and scares me more than just a little, to think of what is going to happen in this area without her considerable (by all accounts) influence. Are we going to need armor plated vehicles to drive down Orange Avenue . . ??
  • by Lynda Martin-James Location: Savannah,GA on Jun 8, 2011 at 09:39 AM
    I share the comments of my Cousin - Charles. My Aunt will truly be missed. She give a piece of herself to everyone she touched. My heart is heavy but I know that God has another Angel. Tell Mama I say hello and I love you both.
  • by MATTEL Location: TALLAHASSEE on Jun 8, 2011 at 09:37 AM
    I have known Mrs. Stephens for serveral years. During my tenure as a Union Rep/Activist I learn much from Mrs. Stephens such as what it means to be strong-will and that not all adults are strong enough to stand up for their principles. Individuals whom have gone against the grain can truly understand why many feel the lost of Mrs. Stephens. I loved Mrs. Stephens and I will miss her deeply.
  • by Reggie Phillips Location: St. Louis, MO on Jun 8, 2011 at 08:54 AM
    People! People! She suffered an unexpected medical condition. This could happen to any of us at anytime. Age has nothing to do with it. As one of the commenters stated, it is one thing to keep your moth closed and be thought a fool and another to open your mouth and be proven one. To my Frat Brother Charles, who I've never met, fraternal condolences to you and your family. I will keep you lifted up in prayer. If you need anything from me, Bro. Cecil Howard knows how to get in touch with me. I apologize for the heartless, ignorant posts that have been made by the people on here who ahve proven their ignorance and insensitivity.
    • reply
      by Charles Stephens on Jun 9, 2011 at 07:52 AM in reply to Reggie Phillips
      Reggie, Thank you for your comments and support during this difficult time for our family. 199999...06.
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