December 13: Margaret Ritchie Stone (1903)

The accompanying picture shows a pass written by President Lincoln on the morning of his assassination for Margaret Ritchie Stone (“Mrs. Dr. Stone”), wife of Lincoln family physician Dr. Robert King Stone, for a visit she and her sister were making to Richmond to visit a friend.

Following Margaret Stone’s death on December 13, 1903, the following tribute to this longtime Epiphany parishioner appeared in the Parish Guide newsletter.

This greatly esteemed and much beloved lady has been taken from us – called up higher to a happier life and a holier service. She was with us on Sunday, December 11th, a devout worshipper in the services of the Church; she was with her household on Monday, busy about her domestic duties all day; and then on Tuesday morning “she was not” for “God took her.” Without a day of illness, without a pang, in a moment she passed through the gate of death into the Paradise of God. It was not death; it was a translation. “Jesus Christ hath abolished death.”

     We need not speak here of her bright and beautiful life – how she rejoiced in its happiness, how she patiently bore its sorrows and its losses, how she bravely did her duty and fulfilled her trust – always gentle and charitable, full of cheer and sympathy, vivacious and witty, yet deeply devout in spirit. She was an example of charitable forbearance under great provocation in some of the experiences of life. She never spoke ill of any, nor could she think evil even of those who did her wrong.

     What she was and how she lived in this community is too well known to need telling, nor could we tell it as well as it is known. She has carried sunshine with her in all companies since she came a young woman to Washington with her distinguished father, Mr. Thomas Ritchie, President Polk’s close personal friend, in 1846. Her unfailing bon hommie has made her an eagerly welcomed guest all these years in the halls of fashion and in the home of plain and poor folk. It never failed her, even in her 83rd year.

     The Church of the Epiphany has sustained a great loss in her translation to a higher sphere. For about eight and forty years (with a brief intermission) she has been a member of this parish, warmly and actively interested in its welfare and its work. We shall miss her sorely, but her memory will always be with us, bright as warm sunshine, fragrant as flowers of spring.

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