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Lorraine T. Stevens

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  • Keith Emmons
    The following is an e-mail from Wayne Stevens, who runs a website on Albert Payson Terhune: I have forwarded your request concerning Lorraine Terhune Stevens
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2001
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      The following is an e-mail from Wayne Stevens, who runs a website on
      Albert Payson Terhune:


      I have forwarded your request concerning Lorraine Terhune Stevens
      to Irving Litvag, the author of "The Master of Sunnybank" (by far
      the best biography of Albert Payson Terhune).

      His biography contains a number of references to Lorraine Stevens,
      but there are still some enigmatic aspects to her life.

      On p. 251 of "The Master of Sunnybank" Litvag confirms that she was
      a friend of Don Blanding and that he referred to her as "the rowdy
      duchess."

      Lorraine Virginia Terhune was born October 5, 1898, the only daughter
      of Albert Payson Terhune and Lorraine Marguerite Bryson. Her mother
      died four days afterwards. Her first eight years were spent with
      her grandparents Edward Payson Terhune and Mary Virginia Hawes Terhune
      (the writer Marion Harland).

      Relations between Albert Payson Terhune were strained at best. Anice,
      his second wife, did not want any reminder of his first marriage.
      Albert and Lorraine both had strong personalities, making it difficult
      for either to make accomodations. Relations between them were proper
      but not as affectionate as one might wish.

      Lorraine graduated from Graham school in 1916 and began taking
      a red cross nursing class, later becoming a nursing student at
      Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. This caused a rift with her father,
      who envisioned her becoming a writer and thought nursing somehow
      lacking in proper dignity for a woman.

      On June 8, 1923 Lorraine married Franklin Augustus Stevens, a young
      doctor.
      The ceremony was at the Dutch Reformed Church in Pompton Lakes, where
      Albert's father had earlier been minister, with reception at
      Sunnybank.

      After about two years she and her husband were separated, but never
      formally divorced. Lorraine lived the remainder of her life in
      Manhattan, living a somewhat bohemian existence. I have a photocopy
      of a brief letter by Franklin Stevens to Anice (his mother-in-law)
      indicating that he does not blame Lorraine for the separation, but
      that the two would have had difficulties at best.

      Lorraine's first attempts at writing were unsuccessful and she refused
      help from her father. She went throught a period of financial
      difficulties,
      though her parents provided her assitance. In the early 1930's she
      started
      have articles accepted for Good Housekeeping and McCall's magazines.
      Her literary agent was Elsie McKeogh. Her literary output was never
      great
      but she did receive some recognition.

      Though relations between Lorraine and her parents were strained at
      best, there has recently appeared a scrapbook which she started in
      her teen years or her father's writing, reviews, screen credits, etc.
      There also appears in the Library of Congress Terhune collection
      a warm letter from Lorraine to Anice Terhune praising a recent book by
      her.

      Lorraine had diabetes, which her irregular habits sometimes led to
      problems with. She died on January 13, 1956 after a friend who
      hadn't
      seen her for a while obtained a passkey to her apartment and found
      Lorraine unconscious. She was rushed to the hospital in a diabetic
      coma
      from which she did not recover.

      Funeral services were held at Sunnybank, her parent's home, with small
      attendance. Her father had died in 1942 and her stepmother was 83
      years old, in poor health and almost deaf. She was buried in a
      section
      of the Terhune family plot near her mother who had died shortly after
      her birth.

      When Albert Payson Terhune died in 1942 his will left everything to
      his wife Anice, with proviso that if she died before Albert the entire
      estate would go to Lorraine. There was also a request that Anice
      leave
      everything to Lorraine, but Lorraine died before Anice. The will did
      leave some income from rents, etc. to Lorraine, but she felt bitter
      that Sunnybank was not left to her.

      Litvag's biography of Terhune is definitely worth consulting and is
      reliable
      (unlike the one by Unkelbach, which has numerous errors even on basic
      material).
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