Dewart, Russell and Ann (Stevenson)
Ann Stevenson and the Rev. Russell Dewart
Ann de Duplessis Stevenson was born in 1915 in Quebec City, the daughter of Florence Louisa Maude Russell and Dr. James Stevenson. In 1938, Ann married a Bostonian, Russell Dewart - coincidently her 3rd cousin (Ann was a direct descendant of Willis Russell and Russell was a direct descendant of Willis's brother, William Russell). Russell Dewart, in answering a questionnaire for his 50th college anniversary, writes: “After looking over the questionnaire that has been haunting me for some time I gather that this is the place to let it all hang out – to tell it like it is – so that we may disclose our true self. This is not easy to do if one is still unsure just who he is. Such is the case with me for my life seems to be filled with surprises and contradictions.
For example, after getting a delayed degree at Harvard, I took the rather conventional business route of selling everything from rubber boots to investment counseling. The salesman whom my long-suffering wife married turned up a few years later in the pulpit with a round collar, but with few of the other less discernible attributes usually associated with the Ministry. I regard this complete change of direction as one of the many paradoxes of my life and makeup.
At the age of 37 when many of my classmates had been happily married some years before, I was still a carefree bachelor with a BA degree acquired, let us say, “in due course” if not with my class. Now I find myself a grandfather of 3, the father of 6 grown children all of whom are college graduates, and have acquired or are obtaining graduate degrees. (It was said recently, it should be noted, that the old buck still has more hair on his head than 3 of his 4 sons.)
To bore you with one further inconsistency, I still like occasionally to sit down at the piano and bang out, “Underneath the Bamboo Tree” after a gin and tonic yet I am thrilled when I hear the Trinity, Boston choir sing, “God Be in My Head and in My Understanding” or sit in York Cathedral as the BBC Orchestra presents Berlioz’s “Requiem Mass” with several hundred voices.
But enough of that part of the story. Having entered the Episcopal Seminary in Cambridge at the age of 43 it was hard for me to believe that I had spent 23 years as a parish priest when I retired (for the first time) 8 years ago. While a clergyman’s life can be parochial and unexciting, I have found it a most challenging profession and one that is deeply rewarding.
Perhaps the reason I say this is that the greatest joy I find in life is through my relationships with people of all ages and conditions, - beginning of course with my own family and friends. The church records tell me that it has been my privilege to be called on to baptize, to marry or to bury some 1600 souls, and to present another 800 to the Bishop for Conformation. These occasions for most individuals, as well as other times of tragedy and joy are crucial and searching experiences. They are times when the clergyman is allowed to share some of the most significant moments in a family’s life together. For him they provide the unique opportunity to do what he was ordained to do – to walk along with his people as one who serves. Because of this, and for what he himself has learned from them – these times are never forgotten.
My entire Ministry has been here in Massachusetts, - at Epiphany, Walpole; Grace Church, Chicopee and St. Peter’s Beverly. Since retiring in ’67, I have served part-time at the Old North Church in Boston where my father was Rector 50 years ago, and more recently as Interim Pastor at St. John’s, Beverly Farms. Throughout these years I have been blessed beyond measure with the kindness and appreciation of so many people in return for what little I on my own might give. God does work in mysterious ways.
Other activities during the past 50 years have centered largely around my family and home. Since the war we have spent some part of most summers at our cottage in Tadoussac, Quebec – where the Saguenay River joins the St. Lawrence. It is here where my wife came as a child and where we as a family have spent some of our happiest days. Now our children return there with their children and friends – to the place they consider their first home.
Ten years ago, we acquired our present home here, a small cozy New England house built originally by one Jeffrey Thistle, a planter, in 1668. Jeffrey built well but there is enough to keep me busy and happy in caring for his clapboard house and half acre of land. It is here we expect to live out our days with occasional visits to our 6 children, and possibly further travel abroad if the spirit moves and the conditions are favorable.
But we are quite content to remain where we are. There is a good stack of Vermont hardwood outside for our fireplaces; there are some fish left in the ocean a half mile away. And we are surrounded by friends. Fortunately, Ann and I still enjoy good health and, most of the time, our sense of humor. We are able to pursue our individual interests, and to look forward not to vegetating, but to making the most of what time is left to us in being useful and helpful to others in our own particular way. The Lord has been good to us; our life together has been a full and happy one.
The Stevenson sisters (Margaret, Ann and Elizabeth) spent their childhood summers in Tad staying at their grandmother's house in the village, the original family cottage “Spruce Cliff” built by their great grandfather, Willis Russell in 1861.
In 1922, Dr. Stevenson had his own cottage built for his family in Languedoc Park on land given to them by their cousin, Erie Russell Languedoc. The three Stevenson daughters spent many happy childhood and teenage years summering there. This cottage now remains in Margaret's family and is owned by Margaret's son, Dennis Reilley (the Reilley house).
Then in the late 1920s, Dr. Stevenson built a second cottage nearby which now remains in Elizabeth's family (the O'Neill house). Later, Ann and Russell Dewart purchased “Tivoli”, the third Stevenson cottage (the Dewart house). Tivoli has an interesting history. Shortly after World War I, Erie Languedoc had two square log cabins from the golf course moved on rollers to Tivoli's present location where she joined them together and rented it out. It was then bought from Erie Languedoc by Professor Maclean from Rochester, NY, who named it “Tivoli”. In 1945, Ann and Russell purchased “Tivoli” from the professor and continued summering there every summer with their 6 children, Timothy, Alan, Brian, Ted, Beth and Judy. Many years later, in the mid-1980s, Russell and Ann built their own little chalet across the road from Tivoli.
Russell Dewart served faithfully as a summer rector for 21 years (1953-1974). He died in 1997 and Ann died 11 years later in 2008. Both are buried in the family plot in Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec.