Frances Stringfellow Stebbins, 94, of Salem, Va., died on Sept. 21, 2023, in Salem. Her death was attributed to heart failure.
Mrs. Stebbins was, from 1953 to 1997, a reporter and columnist of religion news for the Roanoke Times and earlier for its sister newspaper, The Roanoke World-News. Following her retirement after 44 years from these daily newspapers, she regularly contributed stories and columns to several weekly papers serving the Roanoke area. For many years she also wrote a column on religion related issues for “Senior News” monthly publication.
Mrs. Stebbins and her late husband, Charles H. Stebbins, were active for many years at St. James Episcopal Church, of Roanoke and in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem. She served on the governing boards of both churches as well as the Executive Board of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. Her special church interest was adult education, and she was for more than 20 years a leader in the seminary extension program known as Education for Ministry (EFM). As its mentor, she shared this learning with more than 100 adults of several denominations. Though Episcopalian by birth and heritage, she regarded herself only as “one who takes God seriously.”
Mrs. Stebbins was the author of two books on Western Virginia religion, “A Mighty Witness: Denominations of Western Virginia,” and “One Spirit… Many Voices,” a personal history of the interfaith clergy association that existed for many decades in the area. She contributed a chapter to the Centennial edition of the Roanoke Times & World News for the 1982 Roanoke celebration. She also wrote several books of personal recollections including a serialized memoir, “Give Light…” published in the Salem Times-Register.
Born in Charlottesville, Va. on July 27, 1929, Mrs. Stebbins was reared by a widowed mother in Orange, Virginia, was a high school honor graduate and studied journalism at Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). She married Charles H. Stebbins in 1951 and was employed by weekly and daily newspapers in Petersburg, Va. before moving to Roanoke in 1953. Her husband, who died March 30, 2008, was also employed by the Petersburg, Roanoke, and Salem newspapers for nearly a half century as a government reporter and editor.
Survivors include her daughter, Julie S. Bordelon (Gary), of St. Augustine, Fla.; son, Frank S. Stebbins, of Cloverdale, Va.; granddaughter, Kellie B. Lester (Matthew), as well as great grandsons, Brady T. Lester and Charlie York Lester, of Moncks Corner, S.C. Her son, C. Harvey Stebbins, Jr., predeceased her in 2016.
A memorial service will be conducted on Saturday, September 30, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Salem; interment will immediately follow in the parish columbarium. Memorial donations may be made to the church, 42 E. Main Street, St., Salem, Va. 24153 or to League for Animal Protection, 603 Poor Farm Rd., Fincastle, Va. 24090
Online condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting www.johnmoakey.com.