December ‘fan’ winner Stokes a gift to Pickens

PICKENS — The winner of the December “I Fan The Flame” award, Tunkie Stokes, is a true gift to Pickens.

As a lifelong first-generation resident of Pickens, Stokes’ life has been one of giving back to the community and those that live here.

“It’s obvious, after all these years, that I love living in Pickens,” she said. “I love the honest, hard-working, friendly people and the unique qualities of this smaller town. We have no relatives here, but our lifelong friends take their place.”

Although she lived most of her life in town, Stokes did have the unique experience of living in Table Rock State Park, where her dad was superintendent, for eight years.

Her gifts of giving to others and to the community in the past, include serving on the boards of both the Hagood-Mauldin House and the Pickens Chamber of Commerce, as well as on the advisory council for the Department of Social Services. Stokes was a charter member of the Cannon Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. She has served on the daycare board of the Pickens Presbyterian Church. Other church-related endeavors, past and present, include Sunday School teaching, serving on the Vestry Board and as a Eucharistic Visitor — all for St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Easley, where she also is vice president of the Daughters of the Kings.

Since 1995, much of Stokes’ community service time has been spent on the Cannon Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees where she has been secretary, vice-chairman and now chairman for the past two years. She also serves on the hospital’s foundation board.

As a graduate of Pickens schools and Columbia College, with a B.S. in home economics, Stokes first put that degree to work by opening Mary Stokes Shop, a ladies’ dress store on Main Street, where Michael’s Restaurant is now located. After eight years, Stokes left retail and began teaching culinary arts at the county tech center. After 17 years teaching, she was then instrumental in starting a student school-to-work program that continues today. She coordinated that business recruiting program for three years. In 1997, she returned to retailing by opening Main Street Antiques & Uniques, with three other ladies, until it closed and she retired in 2009.