Rhoda Pickwick Stevens

rhoda stevens
Rhoda Pickwick Stevens

(12/2/1930 ⁠— 12/6/2021)

On Monday December 6th, Rhoda Pickwick Stevens, loving mother of Curtis and Scott Stevens, grandmother of Ryan and Nicole Stevens, and friend to many, passed away at her home in Vienna, VA from a stroke at the age of 91.

Rhoda was born on December 2, 1930 in Littleton, New Hampshire. She grew up in the town of Lisbon, New Hampshire in the White Mountains along the Ammonoosuc River. Lisbon is about 30 miles away from Mount Washington and the neighboring towns which included Littleton, Franconia, Landaff, Sugar Hill and yes Tinkerbell, NH. Rhoda was active in both high school and college UNH ski teams (downhill racing), cheerleading, acting, debate, and yearbook board. She attended and graduated from the University of New Hampshire (Occupational Therapy) in 1952 where she met her future husband, Peter Stevens of Durham, NH.

She was an Occupational Therapist (OT) and began her OT rotation with the Mayo Clinic before her engagement. She and Peter were married in Lisbon, NH and resided in Holbrook, Arizona where Peter worked for the US Geological Survey as a geologist determining water sources for the Navajo Nation. She worked for the U.S. Geological Survey Field Office as a Secretary from 1954-1956. After her husband was transferred to the Boise, Idaho USGS field office, she became an OT at Elks Rehabilitation Center from 1956-1962. Later in Austin, TX, Rhoda was active each summer supporting her family, which included spending summers in New Hampshire helping with her father's medical practice in Lisbon. Her family tough-as-nails upbringing and spirit were what made her and her generation the greatest. She eventually became a true force of nature that most found hard, if not impossible, to keep up with.

Upon moving to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, from Austin in 1970, after attempting to enroll her boys in local schools, she sent a scathing letter to the newspaper regarding a local town school superintendent principal. He had rejected her boys' applications on account of “no more students from New Orleans” not reading applications (We were from Austin, TX schools). After an unannounced visit by the superintendent, the original school to her was returned after being unglued from the table (model car project). There was no mention of Texas offered and alternative schooling was arranged. During this time in Mississippi, she entertained USGS friends and colleagues while caring for her children and her ailing parents in Key West and Lisbon, NH.

In 1974, Rhoda, Peter, and her family finally settled in Vienna, Virginia where she was active in many community organizations including: volunteer ushering with The Wolftrap Foundation for the Performing Arts (receiving a 30 year achievement award), volunteering as an election poll worker, volunteering for and working with the Vienna Women's Club, the Vienna Host Lions Club, and various contributions to the blind and visually impaired. In addition to this, Rhoda spent thousands of hours doing genealogical research and publishing her work. She was also a swimming instructor, avid bridge player, and dedicated grandparent, aunt, and friend to many.

She made friends throughout her life and was constantly in motion. She loved hut-to-hut hiking White Mountains of NH, was a lifelong swimming and tennis enthusiast, expert skier, habitual walker (Gold and White big collies in tow), a relentless gardener, and voracious reader who could sense those in need and help. Being with her was always an adventure as she was going to meet and speak with 5-10 random strangers or friends she bumped into. A simple 15 - 30 minute trip or errand could result in an 1 ½ hour multiple stop odyssey. She could make a brick wall talk for hours.

She loved music and during her time as an usher at Wolf Trap National Park she and Peter took in four to five hundred live performances over the course of their 30 years as volunteers. The Boston Pops and Chet Atkins were some of her favorites. She loved her border collies, which kept her fit on top of her many other activities. In support of 9-11 she had a bumper sticker on her yellow Volvo 240 Station Wagon which simply said "Let's Roll!" Although she walked the line, she could be direct and spoke her mind as she called the shots⁠—sometimes when they were not hers to call. Of course, this caused trouble.

Rhoda grew up during The Great Depression and World War II in a beautiful but rugged part of New England. Back then there was no time for anything but getting things done. As a girl, she would ride with Dr. Pickwick (“PICK”) on his house calls⁠—no kidding! He had car skis on the vehicle he drove. Her father, Harold, did it all: from his practice to house calls to tending to those needing a baby delivered or diagnosing an illness. She grew up watching him and her mother, Hazel who attended the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) and was a bacteriologist supporting their medical practice while raising a family. Her mother had her own lab and microscope for blood work, diagnosis, etc. The realities of the times were that illness and diseases could have dire consequences if not diagnosed and treated.

From the shadow of Mt. Washington to the Indian reservations of Arizona to the unbridled beauty of Boise, Idaho, and the hill country of Austin, Texas in the 1960s, to living in the deep South a few hundred yards from the Gulf of Mexico in cypress swampland in the aftermath of CAT 5 Hurricane Camille, to living Vienna, VA for 47 more years, her spirit and drive were relentless. Rhoda encouraged all to constantly learn, travel and continually push their limits, while embracing new friendships and always adapting to new ways and technology. She was a corresponding dervish and quite capable with her computer research, Christmas letter, cards, and notes to those who kept up.

Although she never said it, she lived a wonderful life and she led life by example and getting out and doing it. Often when speaking to friends and family or whoever was on the other end of the line, Rhoda determined that the phone conversation was over and ended the call with her famous "over and out" statement that did not leave any time for a response by whomever she was engaged with just an abrupt OVER AND OUT. This was followed by a click, dial tone and, of course, the lone party caller frown, then laugh and smile. Her sweet spirit, giving nature and insightful, dry and often double entendre sense of humor won over even the most hardened antagonist over to her side.

Rhoda: we miss you, OVER AND OUT! Your spirit live on.

She was preceded in death by her father, Dr. Harold Curtis Pickwick and mother, his wife, Hazel Ash, brothers Paul Allen and Harold Curtis Pickwick, and her husband of nearly 60 years, Peter Stevens. Rhoda is survived by her two sons, Curtis and Scott Stevens, former daughter-in-law, Ingrid Alewine, Grandchildren Ryan and Nicole Stevens, Nephews Allen and Richard Pickwick, along with great, great niece Joyce, great niece Allison Pickwick, Heather Lee, and Danielle Folsom, and finally, nieces Debbie Pickwick Melburn and Karen York, and nephew David Pickwick.

A celebration of life will take place but has not been determined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to: Vienna Host Lions at 330 Center Street N. Vienna, VA 22180 or your favorite charity. Assisting the family with funeral arrangements is Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna, VA.

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