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S. Stowell Symmes, 82, passed away at his home in Williamsburg on Thursday, February 25, 2016, after a long illness.
Stowell was the fifth of nine children born to Elizabeth and Russell Symmes. His life began on February 15, 1934, in Winchester, Mass., where he lived at Symmes Corner, attended local schools and developed a love for sports, nature, music and learning.
Stowell was named after his grandfather, a local farmer and town historian. He was a proud descendent of Zechariah Symmes who landed in Boston with his family on the emigrant ship Griffin in 1634.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Janice; daughter, Stephanie MacArthur (Alan) of Gaithersburg, Md.; sons, Jeffrey (Susan) of Huntsville, Ala., Gregory (Jill) of Glenwood, Md., and Jonathan (Irene) of Sammamish, Wash.; 13 grandchildren, Robert, James and William (Gaithersburg), Lauren, Priscilla and Marshall (Huntsville), Alexander and Elena (Glenwood) and Courtney, Margaret, Keegan, Samuel and Kenneth (Sammamish); and siblings: Kenneth (Norma) Symmes, Deborah (Charles) Walsh, Priscilla (Robert) Klein, Roger (Margaret) Symmes and Elizabeth Smathers.
Stowell graduated from Amherst College with honors in economics and received a master’s degree from Wesleyan University. Before moving to Williamsburg, he and Jan lived in Middletown, Conn., and North Plainfield, N.J. After teaching at Watchung Hills Regional High School in New Jersey, he began a long career as an economic educator at the Joint Council on Economic Education in New York City, where he headed a national program to improve teaching of economics for grades K-12 and authored several books. Like all great teachers, Stowell delighted in telling the apt story whenever he found the right audience.
During his early years, Stowell’s sports interests focused on baseball (pitcher) and basketball at Winchester High School and Amherst College. He was a starter on the Winchester High School basketball team that won the 1952 state championship and played on the parquet floor at the Boston Garden. Later, tennis became his major sport, one shared with Jan as a doubles partner for many years. He was well known for switching to his left hand to reach impossible shots and his use of unexpected spins. Attending the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament was a favorite annual event. Stowell was a loyal fan of W&M basketball and football.
As president of Trailblazers in Ford’s Colony, Stowell teamed with residents in developing and organizing a walking trail for the community. Other major interests included volunteering at Kimball Theatre in Colonial Williamsburg for 20 years, classical music at Symphonia, courses at Christopher Wren, pinochle and birdwatching. Most of all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend who enjoyed his retirement in Williamsburg.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, at St. Bede’s Catholic Church in Williamsburg.
Donations may be made to the Williamsburg United Methodist Church Respite, 500 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185; or Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Respite Care, 7479 Richmond Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188.
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