Delaware State University is mourning the passing of Courtney Stevenson, who had been the institution’s oldest living graduate. Mrs. Stevenson – who passed away on Aug. 5 at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover where she was hospitalized for almost the last two months – had reached the age of 106 on June 12.
Prior to her hospital admission, Mrs. Stevenson spent her last years residing at Cadia Healthcare Capitol in Dover.
Due to the COVID-19 visitation prohibitions at the facility, her Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Epsilon Iota Omega Chapter, gathered on June 12 to celebrate her birthday at the Legislative Mall, where they sang happy birthday and released 65 balloons in her honor of the 65 years she had been a part of the sorority. Dover Mayor Robin Christensen also took part and presented a certificate from the City of Dover in recognition of her birthday milestone.
Funeral arrangements for Mrs. Stevenson are incomplete at this time. Once finalized, this website article will be revised to include that information.
After completing public school in her native Lynchburg, Va., and attending then-Morgan State College for a period, then-Courtney White later completed her undergraduate education at the State College for Colored Students, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics in 1944.
During her Del State undergraduate years, she lived with the family of Dr. Charles Henry, a prominent African American dentist. She also attended services with them at Whatcoat United Methodist Church in Dover, where she met her future husband William Stevenson, who she married in November 1944. Their union would last 56 years until Mr. Stevenson’s passing in 2001.
She went on to serve as a teacher for countless youths at the Garrett Preschool Program in Wilmington, Delaware State College High School, Thomas Clayton Elementary School in Smyrna and the Louis L. Redding Comprehensive High School in Middletown.
In 1961, Mrs. Stevenson joined the Home Economics faculty at then-Delaware State College where she taught for 30 years until her initial retirement in 1991. Not long afterwards, then-Del State President William B. DeLauder persuaded her to come out of retirement to serve as the College’s acting Chair of the Home Economics Department – an interim post she had filled twice during her previous tenure. She retired again in 1994.
Mrs. Stevenson was a past president and treasurer of her AKA Epsilon Iota Omega Chapter and was a graduate advisor of the Delta Lambda Chapter at Delaware State University.
During her career, she also earned a Master of Art in Higher Education from New York University and did further graduate studies at the University of Delaware, Iowa State University and Philadelphia College of Arts and Science.
Shavonne Bailey, the President of the AKA Epsilon Iota Omega Chapter, said that as 65-year AKA member of the AKA chapter, she was an institution in the Dover community and beyond.
“With a warm heart and sweet spirit, she personified commitment and service to her community. As a former chapter officer in the Epsilon Iota Omega Chapter, she laid the groundwork for what our chapter is today, and she will be missed dearly,” Ms. Bailey said. “On behalf of the members of the Epsilon Iota Omega Chapter, we extend our condolences to her family as well as the Delaware State University Community – where she was the oldest living alumni.”
She has been an active member of Whatcoat United Methodist Church in Dover for 77 years. According to a recent article in The Dover Post, Mrs. Stevenson attributed her century-plus longevity to God’s grace. The article further stated that members of her sorority chapter said her warm and kind spirit positively affected the lives of everyone who knew her.