October 1, 2014

Road and Bench at Essex Court Dedicated to Mary Beth Stebbins

Mary Beth Stebbins

Mary Beth Stebbins

ESSEX— More than 60 residents turned out Saturday at the Essex court elderly housing complex to watch a dedication of the access road and a new granite bench to the former Essex Housing Authority board chairwoman Mary Beth Stebbins. A nurse with the Centerbrook-based Visiting Nurses of the Lower Valley, Stebbins died on April 2, 2012.

It was the residents of the 36-unit elderly housing complex off Main Street that requested the road naming, setting the stage for Saturday’s official dedication ceremony. Tammy Mesite, the local resident who serves as site manager, unveiled the new street sign proclaiming the access road to the complex “Mary Beth Way,”.

The crowd then proceeded the complex’s community room, which was upgraded under Stebbins’ leadership, where current Essex Housing Authority Board of  Commissioners Chairwoman Janice Atkeson unveiled the new granite bench near the entrance that is inscribed “in gratitude for the leadership and contributions of Mary Beth Stebbins.”  Atkeson said the inscription on the bench would keep the memories of Mary Beth Stebbins alive for future residents. “We know her and now those who didn’t know her will ask and be informed,” she said.

Stebbins was appointed to the housing authority board in 2004, soon after an East Hartford firm, now called Faith Assets Management, was hired to run the complex. She served as chairwoman of the board from 2006 until she was sidelined by illness late in 2011. Rick Stebbins, a lifelong resident who had served as member and chairman of the local and Region 4 school boards, was appointed to the board of commissioners to fill the vacancy created by her death.

Stebbins told the crowd his late wife would be “humbled and a little embarrassed” by the honors, including the road naming that was approved by the board of selectmen. First Selectman Norman Needleman said Stebbins was an outstanding community volunteer. “She was a steady rock and constant source of stability and inspiration for the residents,” he said, adding “nobody deserves it more.”

Kimalee Williams, the Director of Faith Asset Management LLC, said the name of the road was appropriate. “Mary Beth’s way was compassion and finding a way for everyone to get along with each other,” she said.