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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, March 20, 2023


Feb. 22, 2004 – Olivia Dilworth Stanford, a longtime resident of St. Thomas, died Feb. 9 in Florida at the age of 89.
Funeral plans are yet to be established. Eventually, in a private ceremony, her ashes will be scattered, as were her husband's, under a mango tree at the family home at Kyalami in Estate Elizabeth, St. Thomas. She planted the tree about 50 years ago, her son Donald said, at their first residence in Bournefield, and moved it when they built Kyalami.
She is survived by a daughter, Madalin; sons, Bruce and Donald; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild; son-in-law, Dr. Herman Price; and daughters-in-law Jane Stanford and Kathy Stanford.
Born Olivia Lee Dilworth on Dec. 10, 1914, in Virginia, she settled — after college and after working with the United Service Organizations during World War II — in New York City and pursued her interest in business.
In 1954, she came with her husband, Donald Stanford, to St. Thomas, and they became 40-year residents, operating several businesses, retiring from those in 1970. They first lived in the Bournefield houses owned by the government; theirs was the second of the houses, now mostly offices and classrooms, along the main entrance road to the upper campus of the University of the Virgin Islands.
They opened a bar in the old Harry S. Truman airport hangar, and added a restaurant upstairs called the Propeller Room. The restaurant served "the biggest and best sandwiches in town," longtime friend Bud Howe said in an e-mail.
They operated businesses on Main Street, including L'Escale," which Howe said "took on the liquor giants (Isidor Paiewonsky, Elliott Fishman and the cruise ships)" and also near what is now Barbel Plaza.
At Kyalami they entertained "many of the world's acting and musical elite," Howe said. The home remains in the family, and it's where Olivia Stanford stayed when she last visited St. Thomas, a year ago in February, friend Margot Bachman recalls. Sue Robinson remembers Olivia during that visit at a large family picnic gathering at Magens Bay.
In those early days and more after they retired, the Stanfords were instrumental in Rotary, Olivia especially with Inner Wheel, and the beginnings of Partners for Health where she worked toward the new hospital, and participated in many other associations.
Robinson came to know her when, as president of Inner Wheel, Robinson organized the 20th anniversary celebration and learned that Olivia was the first president of Inner Wheel and caused the still-thriving hospital gift shop to happen. Robinson recalls her as "the fashion model of the island," and a philanthropic, community-service person for whom the family structure was all-important. Robinson said Olivia was honored five years ago by the Rose Council for her work with that group, which provides aid to children with myelomeningocele, a congenital illness characterized by lack of upper extremities.
Dorothy Vialet, 90, another longtime friend, reached at her Florida home by telephone, recalls her as a "lovely person" that she "shared many good times together with, who worked very very hard." The two of them were from its inception active in Partners for Health, another still-thriving philanthropic organization, now deeply involved in the coming cancer care center at the Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
Vialet remembers organizing a Partners for Health gala dinner ball, held at Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort in 1990, which honored Olivia Stanford as "Our Fair Lady." It was a "very crowded" event, she said.
While many of the friends who remember her are of her generation, present and coming generations will benefit from the healthy organizations she worked with from their inception days: Inner Wheel and Partners for Health.
Memorial donations may be sent to the Olivia Stanford Anything Is Possible Memorial Fund, 51 Dryden Avenue, Pawtucket, R.I. 02860.

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