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Constance Kines Stoner

February 14, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Constance Kines Stoner, who died Jan. 22 at the age of 83. Her obituary was published in the Jan. 25 edition of The Herald-Mail.

John Henry Stoner and his first wife, Martha, worked hard during their marriage, raising eight children while he worked 36 years for the Western Maryland Railway, retiring in 1978.

When Martha died in 1984, John found himself alone for the first time in many years since his children were grown and living lives of their own.

John then met Constance Kines through church. A widow since 1976, Connie and John began "keeping company," said Tom Stoner, the oldest of John's seven living children.

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"Dad told me he was seeing Connie, but that they weren't going to get married," Tom said, recalling that conversation fondly.

About a year or so later, Tom said his father approached him again and shyly announced he and Connie were going to get married after all.

"I knew he was lonely," Tom said.

The family welcomed Connie into their midst, and for the next 17 years, John and Connie were together until he passed away in 2005.

When Connie died Jan. 22, she was surrounded by her second family, which included the children and grandchildren she had called her own since her marriage to John.

"She was involved with her stepgrandchildren and they all loved her," Tom said. "She was Grandma Connie to them."

To her friends, Connie was a treasure.

Agnes Jackson counted Connie as a friend for many years.

"We met in the 1960s, when I worked with her, catering," Agnes said.

Connie's baking skills were legendary, among her friends and customers and later through her many activities with Second Christian Church.

"Connie would always bake me a cake even though I was diabetic," Agnes said. Though she only was able to have a small taste, it was the thought that mattered.

Irma Branch described Connie as a sweet and beautiful person.

"She really loved going to church," Irma said.

Singing and music were very important to both Connie and John. Her dedication to the musical program at her church has reaped a posthumous reward, said Jacquelyn Dixon, pastor of Second Christian Church.

"The church never had a women's choir before now," Dixon said.

The new group officially has been named the Connie Stoner Women's Choir.

In addition to her work with the choir, Connie was past president of the usher board, church clerk, deaconess, trustee and a member of the church's Over the Hill Club.

"The Over The Hill Club at Second Christian meets on the third Friday with a group from First Christian Church," Irma said. "We eat together and have fellowship."

The group affiliation got off to a slow start, but there now are between 35 and 40 people involved from both churches.

Then, there was bowling. Connie and John both enjoyed bowling with the Long Meadow Bowling League, Tom said. Connie even earned a medal for more than 10 years of participation.

When John and Connie weren't singing in church or bowling, they enjoyed eating out and visiting with friends and family.

"I've been looking through a lot of family pictures in recent days, and there were so many of barbecues and dinners at my house," Tom said. "I'm so glad I had a place for everyone to gather."

Every year, Connie and John also would make it a point to go to Pen Mar Park to dance - another of their favorite pastimes, Tom said.

Children in Connie's family and at her church always knew they could count on her to have cookies and fudge, or both, Agnes said.

"I will always remember Connie's great smile," Agnes said. "She was a kindred spirit who never had a mean word for anyone."

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