Estella Stevens, beloved sister, cousin, aunt and friend, went home to be with the Lord Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.
She was born to the late Sam and Grace Diana Stevens on Dec. 8, 1944. She was the third of their nine children. She attended the Camden County Training School and Ralph J. Bunche High School. After leaving school due to ill health, she went to work with her mother at the cafeteria at Gilman Paper Company.
Later she worked as a machine attendant at Kraft Bag cafeteria. After becoming indispensable at that position, she wanted a new challenge. She applied for and was hired as a machine girl at Kraft Bag Company. She retired when the owners relocated the plant to Eastman. After retirement, she ran the family Christian book store until it closed.
She had a strong and determined work ethic, but her faith in God and her commitment to serving Him was even greater. She was a member of First African Baptist Church in St. Marys from a very young age. There she served faithfully on the mission and usher boards and the hospitality committee. She also sang in the choir. She loved learning more about God and His love for all His children. She regularly attended Sunday school, Baptist Training Union Congress and Zion Union Association. She often attended the 11th District convention and the state convention of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia.
She loved to help others and she was a very firm believer in education and community service. She fulfilled her quest to help others find and learn more about God by operating the Stevens Variety Gift Shopite even after the store itself closed selling Bibles, Christian books and supplies at the Sunday school congress and the Zion association.
She chose to express her love for God by volunteering her time to social organizations that helped the people in her community. She was a founding member of the Camden County section of the National Council of Negro Women where she volunteered yearly at each of the organizations fundraisers and historically relevant ceremonies. She also worked as the food manager for the In Pursuit of Excellence summer tutorial program. She also served along with Marie Johnson and Minister Joyce Foreman on the membership committee.
She loved to travel. When the nieces and nephews were young, she made herself available to chaperone field trips including several to Jacksonville, Fla., and Disney World. In fact she really loved going to Orlando’s many theme parks and she made several trips with FAB’s youth department. She went to the Bahamas on a NCNW cruise and more recently she traveled to Washington, D.C., with her church group.
“As much as it hurts to lose our beloved Essie, we take comfort in knowing that awaiting her on the other side, along with her Bey and Momma, are five of her brothers, Sam Stevens Jr., Alvin Stevens, Melvin R. Stevens Sr., the Rev. Alfred Stevens Sr. and Alexander Stevens,” her family said.
Left to miss her warmth and laughter are her sisters, the Rev. Mary Jane Stevens, Betelena S. Owens and Lucinda Stevens of St. Marys; her brothers, Robert L. (Cherry) Stevens of Jacksonville and Joseph L. (Shelia) Stevens of Atlanta; sisters-in-law, Janie Mae Stevens of St. Marys, Minister Annette Y. Stevens of McDonough, Dianne Stevens of Kingsland and Deborah Stevens of St. Marys; many cousins; seven nephews and 11 nieces; a host of grandnieces and grandnephews, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ; and her dear friends in the Lord, Lois Frison, Eloise Wilson, Erma W. Robinson, Patricia Jenkins, Bernadette Floyd and Willie Lewis Foreman.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at the First African Baptist Church, 812 Wheeler St. in St. Marys. The Rev. Gary Tyner and Bishop Jimmy Campbell of Elm St. Church of God in Fernandina Beach, Fla., brought words of comfort.
Interment followed in the Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Marys.
Rainge Memorial Chapel Funeral Home Inc. was in charge of arrangements.