School 07

Mrs Dorothy Ruggie Stephens

September 27, 1928 ~ January 24, 2024 (age 95) 95 Years Old

Tribute

Thomaston - Ms. Dorothy (Dottie) Stephens, 95, passed away on January 24, 2024 at The Hospital of Central Connecticut due to complications following hip surgery. She was the beloved wife of Chalmus (Steve) Stephens, who predeceased her after 61 years of truly happy years together.

Dorothy was born in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1928, the only child of Catherine (Lis) and Ernest Ruggie. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school (Thomaston High) and college (UConn). Dorothy loved sports, claimed she could outrun most boys her age, and became a star basketball player on the Thomaston High girls varsity basketball team and in her Sorority Basketball League at UConn (before there was a women’s intercollegiate team). Dorothy also attended the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City, where she became part of the American design movement. A skilled designer and seamstress, she made her own dresses, later on embraced knitting and quilting, and always tried to look fashionable despite her “tom boy” roots.

Facing obstacles to women’s advancement in the fashion world, she took her Uncle’s advice to join the US Army as a civilian Recreation Director for US Army Officers based in West Germany. There she discovered her love for travel and used every opportunity to visit as many countries as she could across Europe and North Africa. She also met her future husband Lt. “Steve” Stephens there where they bonded for life.

The newlyweds ultimately resettled to Thomaston to raise their two children (Dean & Cassie), and Dorothy adopted a new career in elementary school education after obtaining a Master’s Degree from Central Connecticut State University. She taught several grades for over 20 years mostly at the local Black Rock Elementary School, and loved every one of her students.

Along with her husband in post-retirement, she visited every US State capital and most historical places of interest and national parks as they drove their RV across most of North America. An avid reader, the Thomaston library knew her well. After teaching she launched into a new career, that as line dance instructor, which she pursued well into her 80s. She loved composing dance routines to go along with music she downloaded from the Internet. Always up for a good game, she loved playing competitive contract bridge and nurtured many friendships along the way. She loved theatre, in NYC and at the Thomaston Opera House, and rarely missed a performance.

Besides her parents and husband, Dorothy was also predeceased by her beautiful daughter Cassie, and her infant grandson Vinnie. She leaves her son, Dean Stephens and his wife Jennifer of San Francisco; a son-in-law, Craig Duncan, of Calhoun, Tennessee; four adoring grandchildren, Michael Duncan (wife Lisa and great grandchildren Parker and Logan), Amanda Duncan, Maria Stephens, and Gabriel Stephens, all on the West Coast. She is forever grateful to Stephen DiMaria and the Williams’ family for their companionship and love.

A Celebration of Dorothy’s Life will be held this Spring in Thomaston, followed by a private burial service at Thomaston’s Hillside Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Thomaston Public Library or the Friends of the Thomaston Opera House.

Grammy, you had a great run. We will miss your smile, your energy, and the joy for life that you shared with us always. Anytime we asked how you were doing, you always replied with a vibrant, “I’m great! How are you!”


Services

Services are to be announced

Donations

Friends of the Thomaston Opera House
P.O. Box 455, Thomaston CT 06787

Thomaston Public Library
248 Main Street, Thomaston CT 06787

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