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MARILOU STEVENS

MARILOU STEVENS (MARTINEZ)

Monday March 23rd, 2020
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Obituary

Marilou Martinez Stevens passed from this world, peacefully, and surrounded by family on Monday, March 23rd, 2020, after a long and valiantly fought battle with cancer. Born Maria Luisa Martinez in Nuevo Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico on June 12, 1960, the eldest child of Maria Luisa, a schoolteacher, and Jesus Noe, a businessman, Marilou came to the United States with her parents and two younger sisters when she was 8 years old settling in the small rural town of Poteet, Texas, South of San Antonio, where her father sold insurance and her mother worked in the local grocery store. Quickly picking up her new language from television, Marilou always demanded excellence from herself and had a deep drive to succeed in everything she did. In school she participated in band, drill team, basketball, and track. Also, understanding the challenges of having English as a second language in a school environment where speaking Spanish was a punishable infraction, she volunteered her time to help other immigrant children with their English as well as their studies. She graduated from Poteet High School, that, at the 1970s was not geared for college prep as most graduates went directly to work the farms and ranches in the area. But both her parents strongly encouraged her desire to further her education, so she was determined to be one of the first from her town to attend University. The school counselors at the time discouraged this desire, telling her she was not prepared and would fail, but this only made her more determined. Indeed, when she arrived at the University of Texas to begin her studies in accounting, she found that she was far behind most of her classmates, so she had to spend her time and energy to stay on top of her studies as she caught up to the level of her peers.
Outside of school, Marilou got involved in a beauty pageant as a favor to her Mother. A family friend was over at their house in Poteet who was involved in a local beauty pageant and they were having trouble getting enough young ladies to enter. Marilou’s Mother asked her to enter the pageant and with very little preparation, training, or support, Marilou entered the pageant and came in 2nd place. When the winner had to resign, Marilou was crowned Miss Atascosa County. She then found out that the winner of this pageant was automatically entered into the Miss South Texas Pageant, so entering a little better prepared, but still with no financial or organizational support, she won the Miss South Texas Crown and was automatically entered in the 1981 Miss Texas America Pageant, held in Fort Worth. Showing up to the Miss Texas pageant with her parents, and no support team, makeup artists, hairstylists, wardrobe consultants or financial support of any kind that most other contestants had. In a very generous act, Miss San Antonio, Carol Strickland, offered Marilou assistance from her support team. Marilou’s beauty, poise and charm won her a judges’ special award in that event. She parlayed this experience into also being named Miss LULAC.
After 4 years of hard work in school and learning the poise and grace required for a beauty pageant, she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and already had a job lined up with the big 8 accounting firm, Price Waterhouse in Dallas. As she was finishing up her degree, she realized that she only lacked a few courses to get a second degree in computer programming, so for the summer of 1983, she stayed at UT to finish up this degree before heading off to Dallas. It was during this semester that she met the love of her life, Daniel Stevens. Both being Star Trek fans, they kept crossing paths in the TV room of their dormitory floor every afternoon. Struck by her beauty, bright smile, and wit, he eventually (taking way too long, according to her) gathered the courage to ask her out. After a perfect first date that included the Twilight Zone Movie and then wandering in and out of clubs on 6th street, they became inseparable.
Since Marilou was relocating to Dallas, Daniel, an engineering student at U.T., transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington to finish his degree close to Marilou, and entered a Coop program at General Dynamics in Fort Worth to pay for his college expenses. They were married on August 4th, 1984. Shortly after this Marilou left Price Waterhouse and became the CFO of a group of entrepreneurial companies in downtown Dallas, replete with a corner office in a downtown skyscraper. During this time Marilou passed the exams and got her CPA certification. When Daniel graduated, he started full time at General Dynamics in Fort Worth and the couple moved to Arlington to split the distance. Eventually Marilou decided to also hire on at General Dynamics working in the finance department, but her intelligence and people skills quickly led to her being assigned to special projects reporting directly to the Vice President of Finance. There she helped develop and implement cutting edge programs for attracting and developing talent for the finance departments. At this point Marilou and her husband moved to Fort Worth. As well as she was doing at General Dynamics, Marilou’s goal had always been to run her own business, so when the her boss at General Dynamics left the company and it became apparent that the programs she had been working on were likely to be disbanded, she resigned and became a partner in a small accounting firm in Fort Worth, eventually developing her own clientele and forming her own firm. She also became involved in the Fort Worth Chapter of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and participated in Leadership Fort Worth. However, when her husband got caught up in the A-12 layoffs at General Dynamics and landed a Job at NASA Langley, in Virginia, they decided it would be a great opportunity to start their family. They lived in Newport News, Virginia and had their first child, Ryan. When Daniel got a call to come back to Texas and work for Chrysler Technologies Airborne Systems in Waco, they moved to Cleburne, Texas, which allowed Marilou to restart her practice in Fort Worth. Here they had their 2nd child, Felicia, and eventually Daniel got back on at what was by then Lockheed in Fort Worth. Finally, they were able to move back to Fort Worth permanently. It was these first years back in Fort Worth that Marilou started her firm, Marilou Martinez Stevens, CPA and Associates, with offices in Fort Worth and Dallas. She achieved much acclaim and influence as a leader in the Hispanic business community, being named Businesswoman of the Year in Fort Worth and one of the Nation’s Top 50 Businesswomen to Watch. A dynamic public speaker, she became the first woman to be elected president of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) and under her leadership, operations where brought into the black financially. As president, she traveled extensively speaking to and guiding Hispanic Chambers of Commerce throughout the State, but always managing to get home in time to tuck her young children into bed. Most impressively, during the Texas Legislative Session during her term in office, Marilou led the introduction and lobbying efforts for a bill supporting disadvantaged businesses in the bidding processes for government contracts, a Bill she was blankly told she had no chance of getting passed by the Lieutenant Governor himself, but by the strength of her dogged determination and brilliant negotiations, the bill was introduced and passed literally in the last hours of the legislative session. After TAMACC, Marilou became a founding member, treasurer, and eventually president of the New America Alliance, a prestigious Hispanic business association, working to promote Hispanic owned businesses at the National and International level. She was invited by the King of Spain to participate in a conference of US Hispanic businesspersons with the Spanish Government to explore ways for businesses to cooperate between Spain and the U.S. in the exchange of products and services. Her association with the NAA continued as a financial consultant until her illness made it impossible to continue.
As the President, CEO, and CPA for her accounting firm, Marilou helped countless individuals and businesses, most of which were Hispanic owned, deal with the IRS, navigate State and Federal requirements, perform accounting, incorporations, taxes, payroll, and often just providing good advice and direction for her clients’ finances and business ventures. She often took her service and relationship with her clients beyond the normal bounds of typical business relationships and was loved for her willingness to go the extra mile to help with their needs, while never wavering from her strong moral and ethical center.

As a volunteer, she served as the treasurer of the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, she gave seminars and talks to Hispanic groups about entrepreneurship and finance and volunteered to man Spanish language help lines to assist people with tax questions. She also, for many years, served on the Military Academy Selection Committee for Congresswoman Kay Granger that reviewed and interviewed applicants for appointments to the 4 US Military Academies.
As a wife, mother, sister, and daughter, Marilou had a fierce, never wavering love for her family. Always tough but fair, she raised her children to be independent and responsible while never giving them any reason to question the steadfastness of her love for them. As her children grew into adults, she was able to transition the relationship into a healthy respectful mentorship, giving advice and opinions but always supporting whatever they chose to do. She supported her husband in all he did as he supported her, and they made an amazing team based on love and mutual respect that was an inspiration for many to see.

Marilou is survived by her Husband, Daniel, her son Ryan from Los Angeles; her daughter Felicia, attending Law School at St. Mary’s in San Antonio; her sister Teresa Marshall of Grapevine, her husband Marc, and step son Andrew; her other sister Lupe Briones of San Antonio, her husband Bruno, and their daughters Elizabeth, and Victoria; and her father Jesus Noe Martinez also of San Antonio. She was preceded in death by her beloved Mother, Maria Luisa Martinez. Her beauty, poise, and charisma, garnered attention in any room she walked into and her wonderful energy and love of laughter infected every gathering she attended. She will forever be missed and loved.

Assuming that public gatherings will be allowed by then, the family plans to have a celebration of life in her honor on her 60 Birthday, June 12, 2020. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be directed to the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra (www.fwco.org), the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (www.hsf.net) or any charity of your choice.
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