Mary Stevens “Stevie” Starling Bethune, of Wilmington, died Oct. 30, 2015, at the age of 75.
Stevie was a ray of sunshine, trailing love and joy everywhere she went and creating smiles and laughter all around her with her kindness and warm touch.
Though Stevie won many brave battles over heart and arterial disease, her bright light went out much too soon.
Born Aug. 16, 1940, in Clinton to Reuben Albert Starling and Mary Ellen Quick Starling, Stevie grew up in Emporia, Virginia and moved to Wilmington soon after her marriage to James Stewart Bethune of Clinton.
Stevie was the sweetest thing in the whole world! At least, that is what everyone said about her. She always showed her brilliant smile and people she never even knew would approach her to start a conversation. She instantly enveloped everyone she met and made many wonderful and devoted friends throughout the years who will cherish her memory and allow it to live on.
Stevie charmed one and all with her imaginative eye for design, and though she called herself crafty, she showed an artistic skill that rivaled any established master and had a lust for life that made any reason an opportunity for celebration.
Left to treasure her enduring memories are Jim, her caring and devoted husband of 55 years; children, Mary Scott Bethune and husband Christopher Warren, James S. Bethune Jr. and Ellen Bethune Singer and husband Daniel Singer; and grandchildren, William Alexander Bethune, Anna Paige Bethune and Alexander Lauchlin Singer.
Growing up in Emporia, Stevie danced and cheered her way through school and graduated from Greenville County High School. Always an outstanding student, she attended summer school at Campbell College and there met the true love of her life, Jim. They dated long distance for three years while Jim attended East Carolina College and she returned to Campbell College to earn an associate’s degree in journalism.
They were married on Sept. 3, 1960, at Main Street Baptist Church in Emporia, then moved to Wilmington. As a volunteer for the Battleship Commission, she counted dimes and sent acknowledgements to the North Carolina school children who donated them.
Stevie enlisted in the New Hanover Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Corps in the early 1970s where she was recruited to redesign many of the interior waiting areas for the hospital. In the 19 years Stevie worked for Sophia V. West Florist, she used her decorating talents to shine in the shop showroom and many special events in the area. After resigning to aid her health, she delved into crafting and creating, which gave her great joy.
Stevie loved the beach, first with summers spent in the Outer Banks, then boating and sunning on Lea, Hutaff and Masonboro islands with her family and best friends.
The family would like to thank the many dedicated and caring physicians, physician’s assistants, nursing and support staff and volunteers from New Hanover Regional Medical Center and various medical practices in Wilmington.
A memorial service to honor Stevie will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, at Andrews Valley Chapel, 4108 S. College Road.
Although Stevie always loved flowers and had an elegant flair for arranging them, memorials may be made instead in her name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Coastal Carolina Branch, 1015 Ashes Drive, Suite 101, Wilmington, NC 28405 or to the New Hanover Rehabilitation Hospital through the NHRMC Foundation, 2259 South 17th St., Wilmington, NC.
Please leave online condolences for the family at Andrews Mortuary.
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