Cordelia “Dee” Lambert Stites died at her home on July 14, 2021. She was 95. A nineteen-year resident of Durango, CO, Mrs. Stites raised four children in six states and three foreign countries while supporting her husband’s military career.
She was born on March 8, 1926, in Henderson, KY, a farming community on the banks of the Ohio River, the fourth of five children of William Lambert and Cordelia Vance. She attended Sweet Briar Collage in Virginia with the intention of becoming a doctor. Her plans were interrupted by Second Lieutenant William Hopkins Stites, who had just graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point. They fell in love on a blind date in August 1945 and married less than a month later, after which her new husband left to serve in the occupation of Japan. She was 19; he was 21. She joined him a year later after the US Army decided it was safe to do so and gave birth to their first child, Sam, in Tokyo.
Returning to Fort Knox, KY, between two more children, Ann and Tom, her husband left to fight in the Korean War. In 1956 the family moved to Paris, France, where Mrs. Stites gave birth to her fourth child Lia. After several assignments back home, the family headed overseas again in 1968, to Kathmandu, Nepal, where her husband served three years as military attaché with the US embassy. There Mrs. Stites hosted dignitaries and royalty from many countries while exploring the Indian subcontinent from the Himalayas to the plains of India.
The couple retired to Monument, CO, in 1973 and spent 30 years in active retirement with many international trips. After her husband of 57 years passed away in 2002 from cancer at age 77, Mrs. Stites relocated to Durango, CO. It was her 28th household move.
Throughout her life Mrs. Stites was a perpetual volunteer. She was a devout Presbyterian and served as a deacon and elder. She was also a long-time member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a national woman’s philanthropic educational organization, and active in the Durango chapter.
Mrs. Stites is survived by her four children: Sam Stites (Gwyneth) and Ann Stringfellow (Mike) of Durango; Tom Stites (Mary) of Evergreen, CO; Lia Devine (Gary) of Fort Collins, CO; seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
A celebration of her life and memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Durango, 1159 E 3rd Ave., on September 4, 2021, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Durango or to the P.E.O. Foundation. Mrs. Stites will be buried beside her beloved husband Bill in Fernwood Cemetery, Henderson, KY.