(Editor's Note: Paul Edwards also contributed to this article.)
Mary Elizabeth Ballard Stephens, former editor of "The Braille Forum," died in Knoxville, Tenn., on March 21. She was 80.
Mary graduated as valedictorian of her class at Batavia School for the Blind in Batavia, N.Y. She earned a bachelor of arts degree with a major in Spanish at the University of Rochester and completed a year of post-graduate study at the University of Madrid. She worked for 15 years as a legal secretary for a Rochester law firm and was one of the first blind people hired in that capacity. At age 17 she earned an advanced ham radio license with call letters W2ZRO.
In 1972 Mary became editor of "The Braille Forum." For the next 17 years her clear vision, impeccable style and love for ACB was reflected in the magazine she edited. At that time, the editor worked out of her own home where she gave far more hours than she was paid for to making the Forum the quality publication it was under her direction. When ACB found itself in financial difficulties, Mary continued to make the Forum happen. Her contribution to ACB and to blind people in this country was immense. She brought a grace and a sense of humor and a quest for excellence to everything she did. Mary will be missed by all who knew and loved her and by all who valued excellence and integrity which her life and work embodied.
During her retirement years she served as a proofreader for Bookshare, an organization that provides digital recordings of books for people who are print handicapped. She was preceded in death by her parents Arthur and Helen Torpey. She is survived by her husband Dr. Otis Stephens; her brother William A. and wife Donna Torpey; sisters, Joan Lenhardt and husband Frank and Pat Przybycien and husband John. A memorial service was held at Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church in Knoxville on March 26. Interment will be in Scottsville, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the University of Rochester Medical School, Department of Ophthalmology, Attn: Betsy Henner, Office of Gift and Donor Services, 300 E. River Rd., PO Box 270032, Rochester, NY 14627. Condolences may be offered at www.berryfuneralhome.com.