Patricia Land Stevens (Pat) died on November 1, 2020, All Saints Day, at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Charles Reeder of Laurel, Mississippi.
Patricia, born November 28, 1926, in Shreveport, Louisiana, was the daughter of Mary Elizabeth Land and E. Timothy Kelly. Growing up she lived primarily in Louisiana and graduated from Louise S. McGehee School in 1944. Pat attended Louisiana State University, 1945-46, and the University of Mississippi, 1946-48, where she helped organize a chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. During this time, she was selected as one of ten “Favorites” on the University of Mississippi campus.
After college Patricia worked in New Orleans for WDSU radio, and lived with friends in an apartment in the French Quarter. At a wedding of mutual friends in McComb, Mississippi, she met Phineas Stevens and they married in 1949. Phineas was one of the founding partners of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada in Jackson, Mississippi. They were married for 67 years, until his death in 2016.
During her years in Jackson, Mississippi, Pat was active in civic and church organizations. She and Phineas joined Phineas’s parents and grandparents as members of Galloway Methodist Church. Subsequently, they joined St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and Pat became the first woman to serve on the vestry. She was also the first woman on the University of Mississippi Foundation Board of Directors. In her active years in the Junior League of Jackson, she was an officer, editor of Tattler Magazine, chairman of the admissions committee, and chairman of the provisional training. Pat was a founding member of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Association, served on their first board and was chairman of the “Pops Concert.” She helped organize the St. Mark’s Day Care Center and was on the board of St. Andrew’s Day School.
As someone who treasured the arts, Pat was also on the boards of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, New Stage Theatre, and the Mississippi Humanities Council. She also served on board of the Mississippi National Science Museum. She particularly loved her work on the Executive Council of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.
Beginning in 1962, Patricia participated in a group of Jackson community leaders, women, both Christian and Jewish, who met weekly to work promoting racial justice and good public schools for all. As community activists, they used their influence to facilitate communication and equality among the races.
Devoted as she was to education, Patricia returned to school in 1978 and earned an M.A. degree in American Literature from Goddard College. She went on to teach a course on “Images of Women” in the Millsaps College Community Enrichment Program, in 1978 and 1979, and at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Continuing Education, in 1978. She always loved her native state of Louisiana, and in 1982 wrote the text for “Louisiana's Architectural and Archaeological Legacies,” published by Northwestern State University.
After Phineas retired, they lived in Ocean Springs, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; Point Clear, Alabama; and Asheville, North Carolina. Most recently Patricia had returned to live in Jackson, Mississippi. Wherever she lived, Patricia joined book clubs and formed deep friendships. Within her wide circle of friends, each person knew they were loved and valued by her. In her last days she was still reaching for her cell phone to call her friends.
She is survived by her daughter Susan Stevens Reeder (Charles), her son Stuart Phineas Stevens (Suzanne), her four grandchildren, Julianna Reeder Campbell (Robert), Nathanael Lion Reeder (Noreen), Magdalen Reeder Borstein (Joseph), Mary-Grace Stevens Reeder and special friend Robertson McAnulty, three great-grandchildren, William and Frederick Reeder and Robert Kai Campbell, well-loved nieces, nephews and cousins, and her sisters Kathryn Kelly (Eric Schnapper) and Nancy Kelly Garrett.
There will be an interment service at the Stevens family cemetery in Old Augusta, Mississippi. Patricia would be pleased by memorials made to the Center For The Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.