Josephine Stipe

Obituary of Josephine Stipe

Born on June 26, 1930 to parents Frederick Renfroe Weedon and Josephine Davis Weedon.


Josephine [“Josie”] grew up in Jamestown, NY during the Great Depression. One of her lifelong tenets from this time was: “Use it up… Wear it out… Make it do… or do without”.


Josie had one older brother, Frederick [MN] Weedon. She attended Jamestown High School before moving south to attend Duke University where she earned a Bachelors' Degree in English. She was also a member of the Phi Mu Sorority and the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.


While at Duke, Josie met her future husband, Robert Edwin (Bob) Stipe. They were married in Duke Chapel in 1952.


Josie worked in the Duke Music Library. Because she and Bob had access to all the standard recordings, their home music collection was somewhat eclectic and heavily populated with Classical and Jazz LP’s .


Josie and Bob moved to a small house on Purefoy Road in Chapel Hill in the mid- 1950’s. From there they moved to Highland Woods, one of Chapel Hill's newest, modernist-style neighborhoods.


Josie and Bob had two sons, Dan [born 1957] and Fred [born 1960].


Josie loved her family above all things. She was totally devoted to her husband and her children. She also cared for her parents, who had moved to Chapel Hill so her father could teach Anatomy and Pathology at the UNC Medical School.


While in Highland Woods, Josie often found herself playing “mother” to not only her own children, but many of the neighbor’s children as well. The kids were often in and out of each other’s houses at all hours of the day and night and sometimes there were questions of who lived where, exactly.


While raising her two boys, Josie was not the strictest of disciplinarians. Most transgressions were turned into “teachable moments” as she was more interested making sure that lessons were learned, rather than just punishment meted out. Occasionally, a quick and well-aimed swat with a wooden spoon, or a garden ruler was called for, but not very often. The most serious of childhood offenses were met with banishment “…to your rooms until your father gets home”. Those sentences were often commuted to “time served” once Bob got home.


Along with her husband, Josie enjoyed entertaining and hosting cocktail parties with a broad spectrum of friends of all ages and backgrounds. They both enjoyed engaging in lively debate and discussion of matters of the day, sometimes until the wee small hours of the morning.


Josie was a full-time wife and mother, but she never liked the terms “homemaker” or “housewife”. Like many women of her time, she bristled at the expectation that she also needed a “profession”.  When asked, “What do you do?” she often told people that her job title was “Domestic Goddess”, or that she “managed a very exclusive men’s club”.


Josie was an aspiring thespian. As a member of the local acting company, The Purefoy Players, her lead roles included Joan of Arc and Mars (the God of War) in productions that were presented on the stage at the Community Church.


She was an accomplished artist across multiple mediums. She worked in enamel and had her own home kiln. She worked in wood-cut block printing and for many years crafted and printed the family’s Christmas cards. She sketched in pencil, charcoal, and Conte crayon, and painted in watercolor and acrylic.


Josie always enjoyed Chinese and Japanese art forms [she was convinced that in a previous life that she had been a Japanese fisherman].


Josie enjoyed comedy and radio performers like Stan Freburg, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, and Jackie Gleason [and the Honeymooners].


In 1968/69, The family moved to Bromley, England while Bob studied Urban Planning as part of a Fulbright Scholarship. Josie managed the social transition with great equanimity and documented her experiences in a set of journals, describing the family’s adventures in England and across Europe.


While living in England, Josie developed a keen appreciation of English humor. She especially loved Monty Python and later, “Fawlty Towers” and many other BBC comedies.


Once back in the States, Josie focused on her sons’ activities. With the establishment of Rainbow Soccer in Chapel Hill, she became one of the first, true “Soccer-Moms”.


Josie and Bob actively supported her sons’ participation in the Boy Scouts, both of whom were members of BSA Troop 835. As a chaperone on one “coed” trip with local Girl Scout Troop 59, she attempted to learn how to ski at Appalachian Ski Mountain. On her first descent of the “bunny slope”, she promptly plowed into [and was buried by] Chapel Hill Dentist, Bill Ellis, Sr..  After regaining her composure [and her dignity] she was told by the ski instructor, “Ma’am, if you’d just relax about 300%, you’ll do just fine”. Josie never put on skis again.


Josie and her husband loved dining once a week at Leo’s Restaurant, where the usually ordered the Veal Parmigiana. They were such regular customers that their phone number was written on the wall in the kitchen by the phone: “Mr. & Mrs. Veal: 967-2448”. The restaurant staff would call them at home to check on them if they ever missed a week.


Josie [with guidance from Bob] would develop an appreciation for fine wines, but she would readily admit to never being too proud to “drink the cheap stuff” on occasion.


While Josie enjoyed classical music and jazz, later in life she was also known to rock out to some Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, or Jimmy Buffett [courtesy of her sons’ stereo systems].


Josie enjoyed reading and writing poetry. She enjoyed reading historical biographies. She also enjoyed southern humor and authors like Florence King and Roy Blount, Jr.


Josie loved her family’s “summer home” on St. Simons Island, Georgia. She spent many months every year sanding and painting, rebuilding window screens, hacking back the myrtle and palmettos, and rebuilding various parts of the house for the summer “renters”. In her “off” hours she would read, or paint, or just enjoy the vast white sand beach and the ocean breeze.


Josie loved bird watching and maintained multiple feeders outside her home office window. She had one particular cardinal [nicknamed “Crazy Charlie”] that would perch on her car side mirror and peck at his own reflection. Josie and Bob spent countless hours devising intricate plans to feed the birds, confound the squirrels, and keep the neighborhood cats at bay.


Josie loved roses and enjoyed being a member of the Chapel Hill Garden Club. She shared Bob’s love of the outdoor spaces that made their home so special. She spent many hours tending to her flowers and her figs and entertaining guests outdoors on their magnificent deck.


Josie was a strong advocate for Historic Preservation, both local and national, in support of her husband’s committed efforts in that field. They entertained many visits from Bob’s graduate students from across the country that would come to their home to share their experiences in city and regional planning and historic preservation. She was considered a “second mom” to many of Bob’s students.


Josie loved and appreciated Bob’s photographic interests. She would often deliver a meal to him in his darkroom, while he was working on trying to get a print “just right”. She actually became an integral part of his photographic endeavors, as he would often photograph her while she held up the “Macbeth Color Checker” [a color-calibration target]. There are hundreds of images of her and “Macbeth” scattered throughout Bob’s photographic archives.


Josie’s husband Bob passed in 2007 and she stayed in the family home on Pine Lane until 2013, when she moved to Carillon Assisted Living in Hillsborough.


Josie quickly adopted Carillon as her new home and was an integral part of the social network. She was a friend and mentor to new residents that didn’t have local families and was often the “mother hen”, helping organize and execute activities. The inside joke was that she was the organizer of all the high-stakes poker games that went on behind-the-scenes, late at night.


Josie loved her new “family” at Carillon and she was very much loved by the staff. She loved getting visits from her friends and her family, including her beloved “grand-dogs”.


After a brief, but difficult decline in health, she departed this world on February 24th, to be reunited with her husband, Bob.


Josephine [“Josie”] Stipe was an amazing and loving person. She never met a stranger and could always find the best in others.


Josie is survived by her son, Daniel Weedon Stipe and his wife, Suzanne of Durham; and son Frederick Norwood Stipe and his wife, Amanda, of Chapel Hill. Josie is also survived by her Grand-Daughter, Josephine Carmella Stipe, of San Diego, California.


Memorial gifts may be made to the [NC] Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc., [], or Preservation North Carolina []


The family is planning a celebration of Josie’s life, to take place later this spring.