Lavinia Elizabeth Stephens


image of Lavinia Stephens, December 2019

Lavinia Stephens, December 2019

Lavinia Elizabeth Sloan was born near Colorado Springs, CO on July 25, 1924, the daughter of Raymond and Lena (McGee) Sloan. She was the fifth of seven children and outlived all of her siblings. Her first home was a sod hut near Yoder, CO. The family lived there while her father share-cropped so that two of her sisters could attend Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.

The family later moved to Jerome, ID, where Lavinia committed herself to follow Jesus in a small Missionary Baptist Church at an early age. She graduated from high school there and at a youth rally that year she met Lura Stephens of Heppner, OR. They stayed in touch by mail.

In 1942-1943, her family moved to Tulare, CA. Lura and Lavinia were married there on August 1, 1943 one month before Lura reported for Marine basic training in San Diego. While Lura served the war effort in the South Pacific, Lavinia was a Rosie the Riveter at Ryan Aircraft doing her part to help the war effort. After Lura’s discharge in 1946, he and Lavinia settled in San Bernardino, CA. There, Lura began training as a registered nurse and Clark (1949), Barbara (1951), and Mary (1953) were born during this time. From there, the family moved to Porterville, CA and later to Oxnard, CA. There, Mom worked as a psychiatric technician. In each place, the family were members of Missionary Baptist Churches. They also enjoyed the outdoors—in forests, near lakes, and at the beach—wherever God’s creation could be treasured.

When they retired, they bought 5 acres of Redwood property in northern CA. Over several years they created “the ranch” for the family to gather, including a comfortable home, a barn for sheep and other farm animals, fruit trees, garden, fields to explore, and an art studio for Lavinia.

Lavinia was always artistic, sewing the family’s clothes, decorating the home, crafts. In her early 60’s, she took painting classes and became a gifted painter. Besides selling paintings in the artist co-op, the walls of her children and grandchildren’s homes have been blessed with her paintings. In her 70’s, Lavinia still used her art to teach children about Jesus at Bridgeville Community Church near the ranch.

Lura died in 2005, and after a time of living alone, Lavinia moved to Clark and Kathy’s home in Huntington Beach, CA. Six years later, she moved to Kent, WA, to be near Barbara and Bob. March 2020, she moved to live with Mary and Roger in Sacramento, just in time for Covid to hit. Covid took away the things Lavinia enjoyed the most: church, Bingo at the senior center, and outings. She never quite understood what happened, but she had her loving family. In 2021, she moved back to Kent, WA near Barbara. Her final move was to her heavenly home on July 24, 2023, one day shy of her 99th birthday.

Lavinia is survived by her children, Clark Stephens (Kathy), Barbara Reid (Bob), and Mary Dees (Roger). She was preceded in death her grandson, Matthew Reid, and is survived by 6 grandchildren: Laura Parcel (Randy), Brian Dees, Alan Dees (Kim), Jonathan Stephens, Caleb Stephens, Bethany Hyde (Jason), and 7 great-grandchildren: Sam, Poema, and Joy Stephens, Allison and Oliver Dees, Desmond and Keavy Hyde.

A celebration of Lavinia’s life will take place Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 2 PM at:

Panther Lake Community Church
10630 SE 204th Street
Kent, WA, 98031

Rev. Dave Roberts will officiate the service. A family committal service will take place Friday, September 15, 2023 at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Memorial gifts to honor Lavinia Stephens can be mailed to Panther Lake Community Church, with memo line “Lavinia Stephens Memorial.”

Online gifts can be made at  Click Give.  Then scroll through the drop-down menu to : Other: then write in the Memo Box: Lavinia Stephens Memorial

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