Ruby Virginia Stevens (Williams), age 85, died March 29, 2018 in Topeka, Kansas. She was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on May 8, 1932 to Napoleon and Callie Williams. She graduated from Richmond Senior High School in Richmond, Indiana in 1950, and was married to Thee Stevens in Richmond in 1952. Their marriage produced three sons: Pev, Ted and Bret Stevens. She was a long-time resident of Junction City and member of the Second Missionary Baptist Church, where she was a Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and Bible teacher for many years.
Ruby returned to school as an adult and received a B.S. in Education from Kansas State University in 1971 followed by a Master’s degree in 1975. A non-traditional student in college upon graduation she began a 29 year teaching career at Junction City Senior High School. Teaching became a platform for her numerous interests that often involved her family, students and community. Her passion for history and literature lead her to establish the Komomantyn Club for the students she taught. The Club was established to create leadership opportunities, awareness of self and the history of students of color. Social involvement, activism and contributions to the community were integrated in the club’s goals. Trips for students included the state capitol, and Nicodemus, KS. She also established a scholarship to honor those students of color who achieved academic excellence.
Through the Komomantyn Club, along with her interest in history, she established the Martin Luther King Day Celebration in Junction City in the 1980's. The celebration began with her desire to include as many ministers, churches and community organizations as possible to honor the works and legacy of Dr. King. She would purchase a full page newspaper spread and write an article on contemporary issues, historical events and ideas related to Dr. King and his legacy. As the celebration grew, she was able to attract state and national civil rights leaders as keynote speakers for the event. The event always culminated in a march in remembrance of the Civil Rights marches he led. Since her illness others in the community have continued to hold the event each year. The Stevens family is grateful for their dedication, sacrifice and commitment to Ruby’s legacy and the community.
In addition to teaching and civic activism she was a president of the local NAACP chapter for over 20 years. She created a book of the local history of African Americans in the Junction City and Fort Riley area. Her involvement with the community included working with churches and organizations to promote the welfare of children. She had a radio program called “A Taste of Something Sweet” and wrote feature stories for the Daily Union. She was a featured speaker at many community events and throughout the state. She was a voracious reader and life-long learner.
Another passion associated with Ruby’s love of history took the form of collecting black memorabilia. She traveled to many parts of the country with her sons seeking to trace the historic events and sites of the civil rights movement, living legends and artifacts from African American History. This collection resulted in the opportunity to share historical information with students in local elementary schools. She served on the committee to erect the Buffalo Solider Monument in Pawnee Park in Junction City.
Ruby lived a dual life in Kansas and Indiana. A member of a family that has held a yearly reunion in Indiana every year for the past 65 years, she made sure her sons were a part of her larger family and she was very active in the reunion for both young and old. She was the unofficial historian for the family and created a number of historical and memorial documents and presentations for her Indiana family.
Ruby loved to laugh and equally loved to engage in a spirited conversation that would often result in a civil yet passionate debate on the merits and facts of the topic at hand. She enjoyed the intellectual challenge, learning, and reflection that resulted from these interchanges. She was a second mother, friend, confidant, mentor and touchstone to many in Kansas and through the country including former students, family members and acquaintances. Ruby would often describe herself as “being uncommonly, common”. Her life’s motto from her 9th Grade Teacher Mrs. Wyatt was, “Never let one part of your life be more important than any other part. There must always be a challenge in front of you larger than the ones you left behind”.
Ruby was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Thee Stevens Jr., brother, Garland Williams, sister, Cleo “Dot” Williams and brother, Larry Joe Williams.
She is survived by her, brother Napoleon ‘Junie’ Williams (Gracie), three sons, Pev Stevens (Sarah Mays), Topeka, KS, Ted Stevens (Kristine), Colorado Springs, CO and Bret Stevens (Krishna), Stafford, VA., beloved granddaughters Jocelyn, Alexis and Lauren Stevens, grandson Jordan Bryant, along with numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Celebration of Life Services will be held at the Junction City Church of the Nazarene, 1025 South Washington Street, Junction City, KS 66441.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Ruby Stevens Memorial Scholarship fund through the Geary Community Schools Foundation, 900 N. Eisenhower Drive, Junction City, KS 66441; 785-717-4063.
Dove Cremation & Funeral Service, of Junction City, is assisting the family with cremation arrangements.
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