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On a beautiful fall day, October 29, 1952, Patricia Ann Gatling Stephens was born in Gates, North Carolina to the late Bernice Virgina Riddick Gatling Simmons and the late Mills Julius Boone.
Affectionately known to many as "Tricia", she was educated in the public schools of Gates County, North Carolina and Colleton County, South Carolina. As a young child, her family moved to Smoaks, South Carolina. At a young age, Patricia met and joined the late William Henry Stephens, Sr. in marital bliss, and to this union six children were born.
Patricia attended Lovely Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Smoaks, South Carolina; under the tutelage of Reverend J.S. Utsey at a young age. Later, she joined Bethel United Methodist Church, Smoaks, South Carolina, and was a long-time member. During her many years at Bethel, she was a dedicated member of the choir. Though a member of Bethel, Tricia followed and supported her baby, Reverend Dr. Ephriam D. Stephens, as he matriculated his pastoral career. She was a watch-care member of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Hampton, South Carolina and The Historic Bull Swamp Baptist Church in Orangeburg, South Carolina; always willing to lift her voice to glorify the name of the Lord. Her voice was one that was known to stir the soul. Patricia was a member of the former singing group, The Williams Specials under the direction of "Mother", and later, she stepped out and formed the Faith Gospel Singers. The Faith Gospel Singers traveled across the state of South Carolina and beyond, singing and lifting up the name of Jesus. Patricia could sing anything, but can fondly be remembered for her harmonious voice leading, Jesus Will Pick You Up, Two Wings, Dark Cloud Rising, How Blessed You Are, and Good-Bye World.
A hard worker and always making sure her family never lacked for anything, Patricia worked at the Smoaks Manufacturing Plant, but also picked up other various jobs along the way. She was an impeccable dresser, always dressed from "Head to Toe!" She could rock a church hat like no other! Patricia enjoyed fishing, singing, crocheting, and gardening, but was known as a culinary arts perfectionist. She did not have reservations when it came to preparing a meal. You could call Tricia at any time and make your request; she never said no. Not only would Tricia cook what you asked for, but she would cook many other dishes to go with your request. On holidays, she would prepare so much food, it would be unbelievable. You could eat three different times and never get the same items; it was like she was cooking for several armies. Not only would you get a meal, but you would get whatever items she had, if you needed it, she had it! From towels to toothpaste, can goods, washing powder, Tricia's house was a "one stop shop." Patricia was a faithful volunteer at the foodbank distribution on Thursdays at Springtown United Methodist Church. To know Tricia was to love her, but, she was an absolute "no nonsense" person. She did not play !Tricia was a quick thinker and she never had to get ready because she STAYED ready. What she said, is what she meant!! She was very protective of those she loved, especially her children. Her passing has left a void in the hearts of many that will never be filled.
On Thursday, September 14, 2023, in the stillness of time, Patricia joined the innumerable caravan that journeys afar to an unknown land, exchanging time for eternity, moving from her old house to her new house.
She was preceded in death by her two sons, William Henry Stephens, Jr. and Patrick O'Neal Stephens; one great-grandchild, Keith Stephens, Jr.; her sister, Shelia Simmons; a special cousin, loved like a sister, Gloria Riddick McNair; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Issac Hires, Sr., Gracie Simmons, Kenneth Johnson, Junita Williams (Roosevelt), Christine Kelly, Patricia "Monk" Stephens, Diana Stephens, William Mark Mosley, Julius Stephens (Carolina), Lizzie Lou George, and Retha Bell Davis.
Her love and memories will be cherished forever by her children, Cathie Linder, Rochelle Stephens (fiance, Williams Jevaughn Millard), Tony Stephens (LaQuanda), Reverend Dr. Ephriam D. Stephens; her yorkie poo baby, Lynah Stephens; eighteen grandchildren; thirty great-grandchildren; her siblings, Linda Hires, Junita Gatling, Reginald Gatling (Minnie), Thomas Simmons (Yvonne), Gwendolyn Simmons, Darlene Simmons, Idella Simmons, Louvenia Simmons, Tracy Simpson (Pastor Matthew); her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Eartha Lee Chisolm (Oscar), Jeanette Mosely, Louretta Johnson, Netha Mae Stephens, Leon Stephens (Adlene), Edward Stephens (Vonetta); an aunt-in-law, Nancy Milton; along with nieces, nephews, numerous special friends, other relatives and sympathizing friends.