Irma Marie (Ferby) Stevens, 75, of Lorain, passed at home surrounded by loved ones, Sunday, January 6, 2013 after a lengthy illness. Irma was born in Bartlett, Tennessee, to the late Ollie and Johnnie Mae Ferby (nee Nelson) on June 17, 1937.
Irma was raised on a farm so she knew what hard work was. She learned to cook on a woodstove and wash clothes by hand on a scrub board and number two tub. Irma attended the public school in Bartlett, Tennessee, along with her sisters and brother. Irma came to Christ at the age of 11 years old under the leadership of the late J.F. Collins. She joined the First Baptist Church where she attended Sunday school, sang in the children’s choir and participated in the Red Circle girls group.
In 1964 Irma met and married John H. Stevens, a service man. To this union three children were born, John Henry Stevens, Jr., Paula Suzette and Stacey. In July of 1977 Irma moved to Ohio with her husband and children. She quickly became busy in the PTO, was a room mother and helping with both of children’s Girl and Boy Scout Troops. For many years she also taught Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, directed the children’s choir and sang in the Mass choir at Unity Missionary Baptist Church. She is also a former member of the Church of Christ and a current member and head of the mother board of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, where Bishop Peter G. Tower is the pastor.
Irma loved to help senior citizens, baby sitting and working in her flower and vegetable gardens. During the months of July through September she could be found harvesting and canning the vegetables she had grown in her garden. She always shared her bounty with her friends and church members. Irma just loved doing for people and she could do almost anything. She had many friends and every where she went she made a new friend. She often said she had friends half way around the world, starting in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
Irma had a talent for lifting people’s spirits by making them smile. Work, food and laughter were her medicines. If she wasn’t trying to feed someone or finding something for them to do she was making them laugh. Many people in the community knew her as the “Co’n Pone” Lady for her enthusiastic and lively renderings of poems like “when De Co’n Pone’s Hot”, “When Malindy Sings” and other works written by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Irma leaves to cherish her memories her son, John H. (Cheryl) Stevens of Glen Burnie, Maryland; daughters, Paula (Les) Shannon of Lorain and Stacey (Desmond) Mitchell of Elyria; six grandchildren, Quentin, Rose, Arielle, Janelle, Chantel and Desmond Jr.; sister, Dorothy L. (Tollie James) Smith of Memphis, Tennessee; sister-in-law, Marjorie Christmon of Akron; many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews and a very special friend, Mr. Walter Gaines, Sr.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Ollie and Johnnie Mae (nee Nelson) Ferby; three sisters, Ollie Mae Ferby, Sarah Vance Johnson and Ophelia Whitmore; brother, Nathaniel Ferby; and her husband of 33 years, John H. Stevens, Sr.
Friends may call Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6 to 8 P.M. at Shiloh MBC, 3900 Clifton Ave., Lorain, and Friday, January 11, 2013 from 11 A.M. until the time of service at 12 Noon at Shiloh MBC. Rev. Peter Tower, Pastor, will officiate. Burial will be in Brookdale Cemetery, Elyria.
Arrangements entrusted to Carter Funeral Homes, Inc., 3001 Elyria Ave., Lorain, (440) 244-5200.