Mary Ann (Cronin) Stephenson left this world peacefully to be with her Lord on September 7, 2016, at the age of 82. She passed away at Kansas City Hospice House.
Mary Ann was born in Leesville, Louisiana to Russell Winfred and Ella Nora (Harden) Cronin on October 19, 1933, ten years after the birth of her brother Russell Cronin, Jr. Mary Ann graduated from Leesville High School in 1951. She attended Northwestern University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and graduated with a Music Education degree in 1954. She was an active member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. After graduation she was a public school music teacher and also taught private piano and voice lessons.
In 1953 she met a dashing young man in church choir practice at First Baptist Church of Leesville, Louisiana, named Bennie Eugene Stephenson, Sr. of St. Louis, Missouri. Ben, a young civil engineer, had recently relocated to Leesville, Louisiana to work on a construction project at the Fort Polk Army Base. They married in 1954 and had three beautiful children, Karen (1955 – 1960), Mark Russell (1957 – 1957), and Bennie Eugene, Jr. (1959-).
Mary Ann lived with her family in many cities including Leesville, Louisiana, Denver, Colorado, Corpus Christi, Texas, Austin, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, Topeka, Kansas, Overland Park, Kansas, and their final home of Leawood, Kansas. For the past five years the Stephenson’s resided at the Brookdale Leawood independent living community.
Later in life, Mary Ann began pursuing a life long interest in medicine and went back to school to become certified as an Emergency Medical Technician. She volunteered with Mission Rescue and Shawnee Mission Hospital, and later became an employee of Shawnee Mission Hospital and worked in the emergency room and mental health departments.
Mary Ann was known for her love of music, theater, film, dance, botanical gardens, dogs (particularly their highly devoted Chihuahua Rocko), travel, watching television (especially “Hawaii Five-O” and “Bluebloods”), international students, and medicine. The Stephenson’s were longtime season ticket holders at The New Theatre Restaurant, Starlight Theater, and the Kansas City Ballet. Her favorite activity was spending time with her beloved family and she particularly enjoyed going out to dinner (particularly when the destination was Jack Stack Barbecue). Mary Ann was an ardent supporter of her son Ben’s performing arts, financial services, and entrepreneurial career. She once said the reason she attended so many of his live performances was because there was no other place she would rather be if he were on stage.
Strongly devoted to their Christian faith, the Stephenson’s were longtime members of Leawood Baptist Church (Leawood, Kansas) and College Church of the Nazarene (Olathe, Kansas). For the last five years they were active in the Silver Link Ministry of Church of the Resurrection (Leawood, Kansas).
Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents Russell and Ella Cronin of Leesville, Louisiana; her brother Russell Cronin, Jr of Lufkin, Texas; her daughter Karen Stephenson and son Mark Stephenson; brother-in-law and sister-in-law Robert “Red” and June Stephenson of Saint Louis, Missouri; sister-in-law Virginia Meredith of Jefferson City, Missouri; brother-in-law Norman Stephenson of Florissant, Missouri; and nephews George Edward Stephenson, Jr. and Brian Jeffrey Stephenson.
Mary Ann is survived by her husband of 62 years, Bennie Eugene Stephenson, Sr. of Leawood, Kansas; son Ben Stephenson, Jr. and his wife Linda (Capps) Stephenson of Overland Park, Kansas; sister-in-law Virginia Cronin of Lufkin, Texas, and her children: Russell Cronin, III and Suzanne Cronin; the children of Robert “Red” and June Stephenson: Robert Allen Stephenson, Sharon Gould, Jennifer McDonald, and Arthur Stephenson;
brother-in-law and sister-in-law George and Lila Stephenson of Saint Louis, Missouri and their children: Thomas Stephenson, James Stephenson, and John Stephenson; sister-in-law Dola Stephenson of Norman, Oklahoma and her son: Kenneth Stephenson; and many extended family members and friends.
Contributions in memory of Mary Ann may be made to the following health, animal welfare, and performing arts organizations:
AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION
6800 W. 93rd Street
Overland Park, KS 66212
GREAT PLAINS SPCA
5428 Antioch Drive
Merriam, KS 66202
OWEN/COX DANCE GROUP
3925 Main St., Suite B
Kansas City, MO 64111