RosaBelle Ard Stevenson
RosaBelle Ard Stevenson, 94, died in Tallahassee Memorial Hospital on October 18, 2012. She was born in Lillian, Alabama, one of seven children of Riley and Rose Wilson Ard. At the end of her high school years RosaBelle obtained a scholarship to Troy State Teachers College, the first from her extended family to ever be college-bound. She worked all night at the switchboard and attended classes by day. Her dream was to finish college and become a teacher, and transferred to the University of Alabama as a junior. There she met Henry Stevenson, the son of a Methodist preacher, and married him upon graduation. Their first child, Nell, was born in Ithaca, NY, while Henry was earning his doctorate in ornithology. Later they moved to Oxford, MS, Memphis, TN, and Emory, VA, where Henry taught college students and she taught in elementary schools.
Settling in Tallahassee in 1946, her husband Henry became Florida's most famous ornithologist while a professor at FSU, and RosaBelle's achievements as a primary teacher at Sealey, Ruediger, and Holy Comforter Schools remain legendary. She had a special talent for relating to children and could change their behavior with wit and warmth. In the words of a close colleague, she instilled in her students the importance of honor, self-respect, and integrity, as well as the academics. Even in her last days, former students sought her out and always returned her love.
RosaBelle is survived by her four children, seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. Daughter Nell Sanders, a lifetime school teacher and administrator, currently resides in Virginia with her husband, Charles "Chip" Sanders who is a Presbyterian minister. Following Nell were three sons, Ernest Henry, and Jim. Ernest, who lives in Tallahassee with wife Anne, taught twenty years at Godby High School and now is Director of the North Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Henry, who can absolutely fix anything, works for Schlumberger as a Senior Engineer and lives in Houston with wife Jeannie. Jim taught at Leon High School many years and has directed the Galveston Ornithological Society for seventeen years, in addition to writing many published books and directing tours around the globe. Jim and his wife Liz live in Galveston, TX.
The funeral will be at 11:00 am, Wednesday, October 24, at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. The family will receive friends during a time of visitation at Culley's Meadow Wood on Riggins Rd. from 6:00-8:00 pm on Tuesday, October 23. In lieu of flowers, it was RosaBelle's request that contributions be sent instead to the North Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Leon County Retired Teachers Association.