Face to Face: New Tonganoxie Public Libary board member Loralee Stevens
Name: Loralee DeLisle Stevens
Born: August 1968 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Family: Husband, Mike; son, Simon; stepson, Aidan; and an assortment of dogs, chickens and ducks.
Occpuation: Stevens works at Johnson County Community College as assistant dean of community outreach.
Interesting fact: Her middle name, DeLisle, is her mother Betty’s maiden name. She and her sister, Lisa, both were given this middle name as a tribute to their mother's family. In Betty's hometown of Portageville, Mo., the name can be found on street signs and businesses.
Digging deeper: After graduating from Tonganoxie High School in 1986, Stevens lived in Baldwin City, Emporia, and Lawrence, working at both Kansas University and JCCC. In 2006, a few days after her 20-year high school reunion, she moved back to Tonganoxie. “It was the right time,” Stevens said. “Simon was starting kindergarten, my parents were getting older.
“After losing my dad this summer, I look back and know that moving back when we did was well-timed. That time was priceless for us.”
Stevens and her husband, Mike Ryan, are avid gardeners. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, her husband has adapted to small town life. Betty Stevens has given him her canning supplies and he preserves much of the summer harvest for meals during the winter. Their small family of chickens now has a few amusing ducks in the mix. They keep the family in eggs and provide hours of amusement.
Stevens is a new member of the Tonganoxie Library Board.
“The library in Tonganoxie is such a gem,” she said. “We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated staff.”
Stevens admits she was hesitant to move back to her hometown after being gone for two decades.
"At first I felt like I was in high school again,” she said. “I still call my teachers by Mr. and Mrs.”
She said the community has grown over the last several years and the schools are excellent.
“The move home was for family, but the outpouring of support after the passing of my dad, Dr. Stevens, was beyond words,” she said. “I am happy that that my family discovered a true community in the place I always called my hometown. Now it is just our home.”