NORMAN — Joan Claire Stevens, 85, of Norman, passed away Friday, July 12, 2013. She was born Jan. 13, 1928, in Ft. Wayne, Ind., to James and Virginia Bennigan.
Joan grew up in East Lansing, Mich., the daughter of James and Virginia Bennigan. She attended college at Michigan State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She recieved her master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma. While attending MSU, she met Bob Stevens, a basketball player, and they were married in Lansing, Mich., following graduation.
Joan taught first grade in Milford, Ind. Together, Joan and Bob had two wonderful children, Nancy and Robert Stevens. They moved to Columbia, S.C., when Bob became the head basketball coach at the University of South Carolina. Bob was offered a job at Oklahoma University by Bud Wilkinson, and the Stevens moved to Norman in 1962. Joan taught fourth grade from 1962 to 1967 at St. Joseph Catholic School in Norman. In addition, she taught at Kennedy Elementary and Irving Middle School in Norman. She then moved to Houston and taught fourth grade at various elementary schools there. Joan retired from teaching at the age of 75.
She enjoyed cooking and she loved animals and nature. Joan was a very kind and giving person who would do anything for you. All of her students loved her and she loved them. Her first love was spending time with her granddaughter, Christine. They had a very special bond.
She was preceded in death by her parents; former husband, Bob Stevens; husband, Bill Gaylord; and one brother, James Bennigan.
Joan is survived by her daughter, Nancy (Stevens) Barcellus of Norman; son, Robert Stevens of Newport Beach, Calif.; one granddaughter, Christine Barcellus of Norman; three stepchildren, Laura Gaylord, Kim Annaway and Keith Gaylord; five stepgrandchildren; one sister, Nancy Calderone; one brother, Patrick Bennigan; and a host of nieces, nephews and other loving family members and friends.
A funeral mass of Christian burial will be 11 a.m. Saturday at the St. Joseph Catholic Church Parrish chapel, 421 E. Acres St. in Norman.
Arrangements are provided by the John M. Ireland Funeral Home in Moore.
Norman Transcript, Thursday, July 18, 2013