Cover photo for Lillian Ruth White-Stevens's Obituary
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1915 Lillian 2015

Lillian Ruth White-Stevens

April 28, 1915 — July 4, 2015

Lillian Jaffin White-Stevens was born on April 28, 1915, in New York City, to Max and Nellie (Pressman) Jaffin. She passed away in McKinney, Texas on July 4, 2015 at the age of 100. Her burial will be in the Harbourton Cemetry at 12 noon on Monday July 20, 2015. Lillian married the love of her life Robert Henry White-Stevens on October 9, 1937, in Ithaca, New York. She is survived by her daughter, Pamela Lakey of Florissant, Missouri; her sons, Derek White-Stevens and wife Shirley of Fairview, Texas; Rodric White-Stevens and wife Jane of Peachtree City, Georgia; Tim White-Stevens and wife Mary of Parlin, New Jersey; her grandchildren, Tim Lakey of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nathan Lakey of Chesterfield, Missouri, Erik White-Stevens of Louisville, Kentucky, Robert Todd White-Stevens of Adelaide, South Australia, Chad White-Stevens of Crossroads, Texas, Ellie White-Stevens of Sharpsburg, Georgia, and Ryan White-Stevens of South Bend, Indiana; plus ten great-grandchildren; and a host of other loving family and friends. Lillian was preceded in death by her husband Robert Henry White-Stevens; her sisters, Mary Helfman, and Ethel Jaffin; and her brothers, Herschel, Manny, and Harry Jaffin. The youngest of Max and Nellie Jaffin's six children, Lillian grew up and was educated in New York City. She graduated first in her class from Evander Childs High School at age 14 and received her BA from Hunter College in 1934 at age 18. Being second in a class of 1200, she was elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society in her junior year. She was also elected to Eta Sigma Phi and Phi Lambda Theta, the honor societies for Classics and Education. At age 19 Lillian entered Cornell University Graduate School on a full fellowship where she diligently worked for, earned, and ultimately received her MA and doctorate degrees in Latin, Greek and World Literature, with exceptional fluency in French and German. As a consequence of her high achievements she was elected to the honorary society, Phi Kappa Phi. In 1937 she met and married Dr. Robert White-Stevens of the faculty of Cornell University. While living near Riverhead Long Island, near Cornell's Agricultural Experimentation Station, she wrote the scripts for the radio program "The Tale Teller", presented weekly on WQXR, the prominent radio station of the New York Times. The program was a dramatic presentation by an actor, the Tale Teller, of the greatest short stories from world literature, which Lillian selected, condensed and prepared. There were 85 stories by 46 famous authors. The well received program ran throughout 1945 and 1946, but Lillian's contribution was never publicly acknowledged. In 1973 with the children now grown, Lillian joined the New Jersey State Department of Education until her retirement in 1984, working on educational research. As Director of Educational Programs, she wrote 10 books plus numerous papers, edited hundreds of staff manuscripts, directed 27 projects, and approved all publications. She helped develop and promote "Holocaust and Genocide: A Search For Conscience", a program mandated for teaching in all New Jersey schools. She was one of the founders of the Holocaust-Genocide Resource Center at Rider University in 1984 and served on its Advisory Council until her move to Texas in 2004. Following Robert's sudden death in 1978, Lillian worked towards and finally established in 1994 the Robert White-Stevens Graduate Fellowship at Rutgers University to continue his mission "to alleviate world hunger through increased plant and animal food production". Its purpose is to continue the research and mission of her late husband, to increase plant and animal food production in order to alleviate world hunger. The present endowment of ~$500,000 currently allows a stipend of approximately $8,000. per year to each of two graduate students to achieve their doctorate: one in plant science and one in animal science. As of June 2015 forty two fellowships have been awarded since the program's inception. Lillian owns several copyrights including the scripts and author biographies in the book, "The Tale Teller", "How to Write a Manuscript", and "Hunger: The Paradox of Plenty", a collection of her late husband's speeches and articles. In her senior years, after going blind in 2007 Lillian rediscovered her gift for writing. She wrote dozens of short stories and poems which delighted her many friends and family.


12:00PM Monday, July 20, 2015

Graveside Service, Harbourton Cemetery

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