Emma Daisy Bunzey Stevens

Emma Daisy Bunzey Stevens on her 100th birthday.

KNOX — Emma Daisy Bunzey Stevens was one of 10 children who raised 10 children of her own.

“She was the grand lady of Knox,” living independently at the age of 105, said her daughter Dawn Coffey.

She added that, when her mother was taken to Albany Medical Center just before her death on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, staff there said they had never attended anyone that age.

“She was tough and independent,” Mrs. Coffey said five years ago when her mother celebrated her 100th birthday. “She had to be. But she was also caring and nurturing. She was always nursing people.

“Mother never drank, she never smoked, and she never took a prescription drug,” said Mrs. Coffey.

“Nobody was spoiled,” Mrs. Coffey said this week. “Mother disciplined us. You did not get any sympathy if it was your own fault. When we grew up, she never interfered in our lives.”

“She never judged anybody,” added daughter Patricia Wigger.

Mrs. Stevens was born in West Berne on Feb. 11, 1912, the daughter of the late Ford and Ethel Conklin Bunzey.

Her parents worked the Ken Rose Farm in Berne, which was owned by Kenneth Rose McAlpin, a New York City doctor who wrote “The Stone That Stopped,” published in 1938, a novel about a doctor.

Mrs. Stevens attended a one-room schoolhouse in West Berne through the eighth grade and then went to Cobleskill State, where she studied home economics, graduating in 1929. She was the oldest living graduate of the school at the time of her death.

Mrs. Stevens met Raymond L. Stevens, the man who would become her husband, at a dance in Knox. They were married on July 24, 1932. Their marriage lasted 45 years, until his death at the age of 65 on Dec. 31, 1977.

After marrying, Mrs. Stevens set up her household in Knox and lived in the hamlet for the rest of her life. Her husband had his own business hauling milk from the Hilltown farms to the dairy. Mrs. Stevens worked for the family business, Raymond L. Stevens Trucking, for 43 years as the bookkeeper.

In addition to caring for her children, Mrs. Stevens cared for others. She worked at the Marcy Nursing Home in East Berne, and retired as the attendance supervisor at Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central Schools after working for the district for 15 years.

When Mrs. Stevens reached the century mark in 2012, her children and grandchildren hosted a huge celebration. The party’s theme was daisies. The guest of honor wore one in her corsage and another tucked rakishly behind her right ear. Mrs. Stevens’s children affectionately referred to her as “The Daisy”; the flower was also her middle name.

A tiny woman with bright eyes and a full head of white hair, Mrs. Stevens enjoyed the gathering and said that her family had always been the center of her life.

“We celebrated for years with Mother,” said Mrs. Coffey this week. “We had many family gatherings. We’re a big family and always stayed close.”

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Emma Daisy Bunzey Stevens is survived by her children, Shirley Willsie and her husband, Glen; David  Stevens and his wife, Charlene; Margaret LaGrange and her husband, William, known as Wayne; Dawn Coffey and her husband, Ken; Patricia Wigger; Tom Stevens and his wife, Deb; Ruth Horton; and Mike Stevens and his wife, JoAnn.

She is also survived by 17 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Raymond Stevens, died before her on Dec. 31, 1977. Her son Richard Stevens died in 1962;  her daughter Diane Shafer died in 2006; and her son-in-law William Horton died in 2012.

The family thanks Albany Medical Center — particularly Dr. Andrew Coates and nurses Vivian, Eric, and Sara — for the care they provided at the end of Mrs. Stevens’s life.

Calling hours will be held on Thursday, Dec. 14, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home at 199 Main Street in Altamont. A funeral service will follow at noon at the Knox Reformed Church in Knox. Interment will be at the Knox Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox Reformed Church, 2175 Berne-Altamont Rd., Altamont, NY 12009.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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