Dottie Stevens never looked for awards or accolades, although she got plenty of them. She just wanted to help people, her son Roy Stevens said Friday.
Dorothy "Dottie" Bowron Mitchell Stevens died Wednesday in Modesto at the age of 87, after leaving her mark on a variety of organizations and people in the area, from the arts community to the county Health Serv-ices Agency.
Mrs. Stevens was a founder of the Scenic General Hospital Women's Auxiliary, the Stanislaus County Chapter of Friends Outside, Friends of the Virginia Corridor and the District 20 Collective Bargaining Unit of the California Nurses Association.
She was named California State County Employee of the Year in 1972, received the Agnes Dix California Nurses Association Award in 1982, Townsend Opera Players Volunteer of the Year award in 1991 and the Outstanding Woman of Stanislaus County award in 2002.
Besides an 18-year-career as a nurse at Scenic General Hospital, she spent more than 9,500 hours in volunteer work for the Health Services Agency.
Children: Mom made time
"To us, the most remarkable thing was how little she wanted to be recognized," Roy Stevens said. She managed to raise six children around all the volunteer work and her career without slighting her family.
"She didn't allow it to affect her home life and mothering," he said. "I didn't think of her as a big volunteer."
Sue Flores, one of Mrs. Stevens' daughters, recalls her getting up at 5 a.m. and baking bread and doing chores before the children were up.
"When I reflect on her now as an adult and a parent, I see that she made sure every one of her six kids got time and attention," Flores said. "She did it with her grandchildren, too. She carved out special time to spend with them doing meaningful activities."
That included trips to her cabin at Kings Canyon to share her love of nature, birds and trees, Flores said.
With her husband, Ken, a teacher at Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall School, Mrs. Stevens sponsored the Ken Stevens Teenage Adventures, taking hundreds of teenagers on educational trips to Mexico, Canada and Hawaii.
As a nurse at Scenic General, which is now the Health Services Agency complex, Mrs. Stevens took interns under her wing, often bringing them home for meals, her son said.
"She was a remarkable lady," said Dr. Larry Bratt, who worked with her at Scenic Gen-eral. "She was extremely bright, on top of everything, very clinically knowledgeable."
Mrs. Stevens was a good teacher, he added. "When we did the rounds, when Dottie spoke, we listened. She had excellent suggestions and very good medical judgment."
After her retirement, she continued to volunteer at the Health Services Agency.
"She was a huge gift to us all," said Kathy Phillips, the volunteer coordinator at the HSA. "Her goal was to make a difference every day, to make people feel better."
Phillips remembers Mrs. Stevens having "to-do" lists and folders for work at Townsend Opera Players and Friends Outside, even into her 70s and 80s.
Graduate helps others
"You had to schedule time with her, there was always somewhere she had to be. She was always a doer, she wanted to get things done," Phillips said.
Born in Fresno on May 29, 1920, Mrs. Stevens earned a degree in sociology and psychology from Whittier College in 1942. She became a community volunteer in Hawaii in the 1940s, teaching unwed mothers to cook and sew.
After moving to Modesto in 1950, Mrs. Stevens became involved in many organizations. In addition to Scenic General Women's Auxiliary, Townsend Opera Players and Friends Outside, she was active in family planning, La Leche League and Delta Blood Bank.
In addition to her son Roy and daughter Susan, both of Modesto, Mrs. Stevens is survived by her children, Jennie Garrison of Modesto; Christine Kradjian of Hillsborough; Patrick Stevens of Portland, Ore.; and Joy Mercier of Port Angeles, Wash.; a sister, Esther Bristow; a brother, Richard R. Mitchell; and 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ken Stevens, and three brothers.
A celebration of Mrs. Stevens' life will be held April 13 at 3 p.m. at Church of the Brethren, 2301 Woodland Ave. in Modesto.
Remembrances of Mrs. Stevens may be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations in her memory can be sent to Townsend Opera Players, P.O. Box 4519, Modesto 95352; or Health Services Agency Volunteer Services, 830-B Scenic Drive, Modesto 95350, attention Kathy Phillips.
Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2349.