Lois Stoner

Lois Stoner

Lois O. Stoner, a past president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland who spent two decades as a liaison between the Montgomery County school board and the state legislature, died July 13 of complications from cancer at her home in Rockville. She was 82.

As the school board's legislative aide from 1980 until her retirement in 2000, Ms. Stoner was responsible for keeping board members informed of what was happening in the legislature. She tracked legislation that would affect county schools.

Upon her retirement, the school board honored Ms. Stoner with a Distinguished Service Award for "her tireless and skillful advocacy for legislation that benefited Montgomery County's children."

A board member at the time of Ms. Stoner's retirement said she and her colleagues were "beside themselves" upon hearing she planned to leave.

"She knew everything about Annapolis," said Patricia O'Neill, who was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Education in 1998. "She knew everybody in Annapolis, and she knew the school system so well. She just knew."

Born Lois Oblender in Lancaster, Pa., Ms. Stoner graduated from McCaskey Senior High School there. She then earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Swarthmore College and a master's in teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Ms. Stoner spent a year teaching social studies in Fairfax County, Va. Her son, James R. Stoner Jr., of Gretna, La., said that year in the classroom, combined with her graduate work, gave his mother a passion for education. Her work with the League of Women Voters, where she served as president from 1977 to 1981, gave her an astute understanding of the political process.

The combination, plus the years she spent as an officer in the PTAs at Westbrook Elementary, Western Junior High and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, where her five children attended classes, made her the perfect person to serve as a legislative aide, he said.

She loved her job with the school system, Mr. Stoner said.

"She had the teaching degree and used it not so much as a teacher, but as a legislative aide," he said. "She was so active."

Ms. Stoner was invaluable to the board, Ms. O'Neill said. "She was a no-nonsense person. She was very blunt, very straightforward. She cared about public education like nobody else I know."

Board members "really felt like she could read their minds about what information they needed, sometimes even before they asked a question," Ms. O'Neill said. "Not only was she an employee of the school system, but she was really an advocate for Montgomery County."

In a resolution honoring Ms. Stoner, the Montgomery County board this month credited her with helping to increase state aid for both school construction and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Ms. Stoner was also active in the Green Street Coalition, a collaboration among legislative aides representing Maryland's 25 boards of education.

Ms. Stoner served on the Maryland Judicial Compensation Commission and from 1983 to 1987 was a member of the Sixth Judicial Court Trial Court Nominating Commission. In recent years, she served on the Montgomery County Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Ms. Stoner's husband of 41 years, Washington attorney James R. Stoner, died in 1997. The Stoners had lived in Bethesda since 1956; Ms. Stoner moved to Rockville after her husband died.

In addition to her son, Ms. Stoner is survived by four children: Richard O. Stoner, of Rockville, John D. Stoner, of Shippensburg, Pa., Elizabeth A. Kariel, of Charlottesville, Va., and Molly C. Stoner, of E. Dummerston, Vt. She is also survived by a sister, Jane Steinman, of Lancaster, Pa., and by 14 grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, 1 Westmoreland Circle in Bethesda.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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