Juanita Brooks Holliman Stephens, born November 25, 1918, passed away January 27, 2018, in a hospital in Brunswick, Maine. The cause was pneumonia.
Juanita Stephens lived with her husband James O. (Steve) Stephens from 1948 to 1966 in Swarthmore, where they raised their twin daughters, Sally and Suzanne. While there, Juanita pursued her talents in drawing and painting, and was active with the art programs at the Community Arts Center and the Swarthmore Women’s Club.
Born in Port Arthur,Texas, Juanita, already an award-winning artist, had studied art and interior design at the Texas University for Women in Denton, where she graduated in 1941. She married James on March 8, 1941, who was a graduate of Texas A&M with a Master’s in Engineering from Purdue University. They soon relocated to Washington, D. C., and then New York City where he, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, was stationed during World War II.
While living in New York City Juanita took the opportunity to study art at The Arts Students League and at Columbia University. After the war the family moved to Swarthmore, Pa., where James joined the Westinghouse Corporation as a gas turbine specialist. In addition to her art endeavors, Juanita designed stage sets in the 1950s for the Players Club of Swarthmore, including their productions of The Rainmaker and Paint Your Wagon.
After their children were out of college, Juanita and James left Swarthmore for Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, and their summer house, “Gray Ghost,” at Cape May Point, N.J. While living in Center City, Juanita studied painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Dan Miller, later the chair of the MFA program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
When Westinghouse relocated its Gas Turbine Division away from Philadelphia, James and Juanita moved to Hamilton, Ontario, where James helped develop Westinghouse Canada’s gas turbine operations. At the same time, in 1974, Juanita opened an art gallery in Hamilton where she introduced the work of Dan Miller and others (including her own work) to the Canadians. Hamilton’s Spectator newspaper profiled the couple in 1975 (“The Engineer and the Artist—a Remarkable Partnership”). Their happiest years in Canada were spent subsequently in the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which reminded them of Swarthmore. Their 1830s home and English garden provided many themes for Juanita’s oil paintings, particularly gladiolas, hollyhocks, geraniums, and lilacs.
In subsequent years, an engineering consulting job and parental care brought the two back to Texas. After that interlude, they decided to move to Maine where they lived from 1996 to Juanita’s death in 2018. While in Maine they found a Victorian house, and Juanita continued to paint in her studio in Machias until four years ago. She exhibited her work in art shows in Eastport and Machias. She is predeceased by James, who died of Alzheimer’s in 2000.
Juanita is survived by daughters Suzanne Stephens of New York City and Sally Elizabeth Campbell (Robert Merrill Campbell) of Lake Wylie, S.C.; three grandchildren, Heather Anne Campbell, Robert Stephen Campbell, and Holly Elizabeth Campbell Thompson (Stephen B.Thompson); three great-grandchildren, Joy, Bradley, and Matthew; her younger sister, Virginia Louise Holliman Van Horn of Greenville, Texas, and two nephews James Van Horn, and Pietr Van Horn; as well as a niece, Sherry Holliman, and her daughter Jenna; plus numerous nieces and nephews of the Stephens family.