Rascoe Stevenson, educator and etiquette school founder, mourned
By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly
Thursday, November 29, 2018
HERTFORD — An Elizabeth City resident who operated a summer etiquette program for young people and who was recently awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, died Thanksgiving Day following a wreck in Bertie County.
Nancy Bragg Dawson Rascoe Stevenson, 86, died at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, Thursday, as a result of injuries she suffered in the single-vehicle incident on U.S. 17, seven miles east of Windsor, according to the State Highway Patrol.
Trooper J.J. Scott said Stevenson was a passenger in a 2010 Toyota SUV driven by her husband, Paul A. Stevenson, and that the couple were headed south on U.S. 17 Thursday afternoon when their vehicle crossed the center line, left the highway and struck several trees.
Nancy Stevenson was transported to Vidant Medical Center where she later died, Scott said. Paul Stevenson was transported to Vidant Bertie Hospital in Windsor where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
A Vidant Bertie spokeswoman said Tuesday she had no record of Paul Stevenson still at the hospital.
According to Sgt. K.R. Briggs, Paul Stevenson was driving the 55 mph speed limit on that stretch of U.S. 17 and both he and his wife were wearing seatbelts. An investigation of the accident’s cause is continuing, he said.
Both Stevensons are well known in the Albemarle region. Paul Stevenson, a pharmacist, is the owner of Overman-Stevenson drug store in Elizabeth City. Nancy Stevenson, a retired educator, was the founder of an etiquette school for young people in Perquimans County.
Nancy Stevenson began the Summer Etiquette School, known to its students as Miss Nancy’s Manners Camp, in the 1812 on the Perquimans Bed and Breakfast Inn she operated with her first husband, Peter Rascoe Jr., in 1993. The original camp was for kids ages 6-12 and featured a five-day stay at the inn.
“Kids came from all over — Colorado, Florida, Virginia,” recalls Beth Rountree, a friend who sometimes helped Stevenson at the camp. “More than half of the kids came from somewhere else.”
A total of 15 kids attended each session, Rountree said.
“She did tennis several times during the week, and took them canoeing out in the river.” Rountree said. “But they all had to dress in their Sunday best for dinner, and the boys had to learn to scoot the chairs out for the little girls. I had never seen anything like it before. I didn’t know how to properly set a table. I will say she had manners like no other.”
Each camp session ended with a graduation ceremony that featured each student reciting quotations reflecting on the importance of manners and etiquette in life.
Ed Goodwin, a former Chowan County commissioner who won election to the state Legislature in District I earlier this month, said he first met Stevenson after he won election to the Chowan board.
“Her son, Peter, was the lawyer for the county and Peter was filling in for the county manager so I met her through him,” Goodwin said.
He recalls Stevenson being a big sports fan and her attending a soccer game where both his adopted son, Kaz, and granddaughter, Lucy Mae, were playing.
After the game was over, Stevenson approached Kaz and asked him who his father was, Goodwin recalled.
“He said I was, and she came over and said, ‘that boy can really run like a deer.’ She always had a way to make you feel good,” Goodwin said.
After taking her etiquette students on trips to the Hertford tennis courts, Stevenson often would take the children by the Hertford Chamber of Commerce for a visit.
“They were always ‘yes sir,’ ‘no sir’, and after they left we got handwritten thank-you notes later from each one of them,” recalls Sid Eley, director of the Perquimans Chamber of Commerce.
Eley said Stevenson’s work with children on learning proper etiquette was well known, and not just in northeastern North Carolina.
“I’ve traveled all of the state for meetings, and people were always talking about Miss Nancy and how she worked with their kids,” he said.
Eley remembers Stevenson as a “truly wonderful person.”
In September, Stevenson’s work in education and with children was honored when she was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine at a ceremony at the Capitol in Raleigh. The award, which is issued by the governor, is the highest civilian honor for service to the state of North Carolina. Eley was among those who attended the ceremony where Stevenson was given her award.
At the time of her death, Stevenson was preparing to turn over operation of her etiquette school to Saint Mary’s School, where she graduated in 1952. The school plans to operate the summer camp on its campus in Raleigh starting in 2019.
“We met with Miss Nancy about it about a year and a half ago,” said Kirsten Monroe, director of auxiliary services and summer programs at Saint Mary’s. “We’re going to do it in our school setting here in Raleigh, one of the places she loved.”
For the first summer, the program will be open only to young girls, Monroe said. In 2020, it will be open to young boys as well, she said. The name of the camp will remain Miss Nancy’s Manners Camp.
“I just hope we can do it justice,” Monroe said.
Monroe said Stevenson taught children more than just which fork to use or how to speak well.
“Everything she did was about how you treat other people,” she said.
Monroe said she first heard about Stevenson and her summer program long before she came to work at Saint Mary’s. One of Monroe’s cousins in Elizabeth City told her about Miss Nancy’s Manners Camp, and she ended up enrolling one of her daughters.
“Even now, my girls can still recite things they learned from her eight summers ago,” Monroe said. “My husband and I grew to love her. She truly loved children and she really wanted children to understand that everything we do comes from God.”
Besides her husband, Stevenson survivors include her brother, three sons, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral services for Stevenson will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. in St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Windsor. Miller Funeral Home & Crematory, 735 Virginia Road, Edenton, is in charge of arrangements.