Mariel Brynhild Stephenson, 76, of Columbia, MO, passed away the evening of February 29, 2016. An informal celebration of life will be held at her home, 2111 Rock Quarry Rd, Columbia, MO 65201, on Saturday March 5, 2016. The family invites all who knew Mariel to come by at their convenience between 1:00pm-4:00pm to celebrate her life.
Mariel was born August 22, 1939 to William and Maimie Richardson Stephenson in Oxford, England. She lived in Oxford throughout WWII, which had a life-long effect on her. Her brother Richard was born in 1946 on her birthday. She moved with her parents and siblings to Chicago, Illinois, first arriving in the U.S.A. on June 30, 1948 which also happened to be her brother Charles’s 13th birthday. She then moved with her mother and siblings to White Rock, BC, Canada in August of 1948 to temporarily stay with her uncle Bill, Maimie’s brother, and his family. This was due to lack of housing for a family of six people in Chicago where her father was currently teaching. Mariel and her family also enjoyed missing Chicago’s cold and unaccustomed winters. The family returned to Chicago in 1950 where Mariel then graduated from the University of Chicago’s Lab School.
She then moved to Greenwich, Connecticut in 1957 with her parents, Charles, and Richard. She attended Bennington College from which she graduated, earning her Arts degree in 1961. She worked for the world renowned New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art as her first “real” job. She loved New York. She briefly returned to Columbia, Missouri, where her parents were currently residing, and received her Master’s degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1964.
Teaching, painting, and art were her true passions in life, so she started her career-long job teaching at the private Lawrence County Day School in Long Island, New York. During her twenty-four years there as a teacher, she thoroughly imbued herself in ballet, music, theatre, art and the culture of New York City; she loved every minute of it.
A big bump in her road of life came in 1974 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which relapsed again in 1983. A cancer survivor thereafter, she was also an active cancer support volunteer, especially at Boone Hospital in Columbia.
While teaching in New York she spent many summers in Columbia, Missouri with her parents. Following her father, William’s, death in 1989 she returned to Columbia in 1990 to care for her mother. In order to teach in Missouri, it was necessary for her to obtain the right pieces of paper, so she got her second BA and teaching certificate from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. She was then able to teach art in the Columbia schools from 1992-2001. She became very active in many organizations supporting wildlife and preserving the environment in its natural state.
A widely known, and greatly talented artist, Mariel’s favored painting medium was watercolor in her most recent years. Friends, family, local schools, businesses, and art lovers now display her work. Earlier mediums had been alabaster, wood, clay, oils, charcoal, acrylic, ink, pencil, and just about anything else she felt she could be creative with.
She inherited her parents home after her mother’s death. With the surrounding natural and unspoiled beauty, it was a lovely country in the middle of the city. She enhanced her life by traveling throughout the American continent and Europe with educational and tour groups as well as family. The wild and domestic animal kingdoms were important in her life. most recently caring for canaries and finches and “Ziggy” the peach faced love-bird. Cats were always part of her world too, most recently and especially her beloved Ruddy Abyssinian “Keb”. Following her respect and love for our environment, in 2013 she followed her parents’ example and honored their memory by establishing most of her 10 acres around her property as the Stephenson Conservation Easement, donated to the Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri.
Most of Mariel’s time in 2015 was spent dealing with critical health issues, in and out of hospitals, doctors’ offices, and nursing care facilities. The support of the many friends, neighbors, and family was greatly accepted and appreciated.
Mariel died peacefully on February 29, 2016. She was secure in the knowledge that the house her parents had proudly, lovingly and joyfully built, the home she loved, was going to new like-minded owners. Also, that her beloved cat, Keb, had settled in well with his new owner and Allie, his new dog friend. Mariel left a wonderful legacy to Columbia, her friends and family through the conservation easement, her art, and her love and courage in life. Mariel’s family would like to specifically thank Bluff Creek Terrace Assisted living, the Bluffs Nursing Facility, Boone Regional Hospital, and the University of Missouri Hospital for their very kind and loving care during Mariel’s times of medical need. Special thanks also go to her wonderful cardiologist, Dr. James T. Elliott, and his staff for their guidance, care and support. Mariel has also been whole heartedly supported by her many friends and neighbors throughout her health difficulties. Thank you all!
She is survived by her beloved cat: Keb; sister: Averil E. Schreiber of Kingston, IL; two brothers: Charles Stephenson (wife Cathya) of Washington DC, and Richard Stephenson (wife Mary Ellen) of Rogersville, MO; and many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and cousins in British Columbia, Canada, and England. Mariel was dearly loved by all her family, and will be deeply missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like memorials to be made to Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri, P.O. Box 144 Columbia, MO 65205; Columbia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 1331 Columbia, Missouri 65205; or a charity of your choice.
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