Posted Wednesday 16 October 2013
It is with great sadness that we write with news of Professor Olive Stevenson's death on Monday 30 September. Olive had suffered a stroke in 2010 and encountered health problems since then. On 30 September, she was at home with her good friend Professor Phyllida Parsloe when she died peacefully in her sleep.
Olive's legacy to social work during more than 50 years was immense. She was described as "the foremost social work educator of her generation, an inspiring lecturer, a prolific scholar and inquiring researcher and committed public servant and consultant" (extract from information about her memoir Reflections on a Life in Social Work (2013)). Since her involvement in the Maria Colwell Inquiry in 1974 (Maria was killed by her stepfather in 1973), Olive has been a powerful champion for social work and for children and older people on whom she focused.
We are personally grateful to Olive in her role as honorary professor at Kingston University. She inspired staff, students and many practitioners attending our annual research conference which she chaired until her health prevented her.
Hilary Tompsett was fortunate to see her last on 3 June at her home – the week her memoir was published, and Ray Jones visited regularly. She was amazingly supported by good friends and family and will be much missed. She will also be remembered and missed for her "academic brilliance and humanity" (Harry Ferguson, introduction to her memoir); and for her great insight and wisdom about the very difficult job that good social work is. She never lost her faith in the profession for which she trained or her understanding of the lived experiences for practitioners and recipients of services.
Olive's funeral is on 16 October in Oxfordshire. Our thoughts will be especially with Olive's friends and family.
An obituary by Phyllida Parsloe was published in the Guardian on 10 October.