Gwen Stevens passed away peacefully and with family by her side on August 11, 2022, after a 10-year struggle with the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease.
Tended to lovingly by her husband and soulmate during the first 9 years of her disease, she spent the final 17 months in advanced memory and hospice care. We thank the numerous caregivers that tended to Gwen while she was in advanced memory care and hospice for their compassionate and loving attention to her needs. Even as she was fast approaching the end of her life, Gwen always smiled and called her caregivers beautiful.
Born in Lynchburg, VA., on July 27, 1949, Gwen spent the first few years of life there before her family moved to Green Bay, WI, in 1952. Following graduation from Green Bay East High School in 1968 she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. When her family moved to Madison, WI. in 1969, Gwen remained in Green Bay working while attending college. It was at her place of employment during college that she met her soulmate and life's best friend, John Stevens. In 1974 they married and moved to Minneapolis, MN, where they continued their education, worked, raised their son, and lived until Gwen's death.
Gwen believed in equal opportunity and justice for all. Early on, she and her good friend
Julie marched in support of the civil rights movement in Milwaukee WI. Gwen donated to charities and nonprofit entities including food shelves, red cross, international charities that seek to intervene against poverty and injustice worldwide, public radio, public television, national parks, and more. She was active in her son's school and hoped eventually to find work that allowed her to use the skills she developed through her education and her employment to evaluate education systems and where necessary recommend changes.
Gwen was a mother, manager, coordinator, evaluator, and math teacher. Gwen graduated from the University of WI Green Bay with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1978. Gwen used her considerable talent working 21 years; initially as manager for the Lipid Research Clinic at the University of MN; this clinical trial investigated the relationship between serum cholesterol and heart disease, and later as medical review coordinator with the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network tasked with monitoring and improving the quality of care for end stage renal disease patients on Medicare in the Midwest. In all that she did, she employed an evaluation perspective whereby she analyzed systems and procedures using a proven methodology. Since Gwen was proficient in mathematics and statistics, she understood how to properly collect and analyze data so it could be used to improve health care, business systems; public programs; and government for the better.
For ten years Gwen was a part time mathematics instructor for the University of Minnesota Extension. As such, she prepared aspiring university students to enter university level math courses, thus enabling students from every background to pursue careers in science and technology. Her life was focused on making the world a better place for all.
The highlight of Gwen's life was the arrival of their son, Justin. Being a mother was one of Gwen's greatest joys. Justin developed lifelong friendships with uncles, aunts and cousins that helped keep him grounded while she and John guided him through life. Gwen shared with members of her family that her greatest pleasure was seeing what a loving, caring, giving and devoted son he became.
Gwen's family were avid campers, an interest Gwen continued throughout her life. Her
favorite camping places were Porcupine Mountains, MI and Beaver Creek Valley State Park, MN. Beaver Creek Valley is a quiet rural park surrounded by small farms in SE Minnesota.
There a spring fed creek, cool and burbling meanders through the valley. She loved to hike, bike ride, and sleep in the fresh night air of the park. In the quiet of the valley, she loved the birds and came to recognize many by their song and to respect their high intelligence. This led her to collect the treasured bird art that she kept in her home. Her spirt will surely reside at Beaver Creek Valley State Park.
Gwen is survived by her husband, John Stevens; son, Justin (Molly) Stevens of Michigan; her siblings Michael (Angela) Gourlie and Pamela (Howard) Gesbeck, all of Madison, Wis, along with many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her father, Bud Gourlie; her mother, Jeanne Gourlie; her brother Douglas Gourlie; and her younger sister Sharon J. (Dean) Martin (née Gourlie).