Patricia Schriever Stokes, 92, an artist and owner of the former Concept Natural Foods store in Chestnut Hill, died March 20 at Cathedral Village, a retirement community in the Andorra section of Philadelphia.
Mrs. Stokes’ interest in nutrition led her in 1970 to opening Concept Natural Foods, one of the first health food stores in the city on Gravers Lane. The store, which later moved to 8617 Germantown Ave., was a popular source of health foods, supplements, books and lunches for 25 years.
Mrs. Stokes had a lifelong love of art that she expressed in artworks in media, ranging from watercolor to fabric collage, window decorating, custom-made lamp shades, interior design and flower arrangements.
She also played the piano and could often be found there, playing the music of some of her favorite popular composers.
Mrs. Stokes was born Helen Patricia Schriever in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was a graduate of Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati and attended the Cincinnati Art Academy from 1939 to 1942. She designed advertising and displays for retailers, including the Gidding’s department store in downtown Cincinnati. She also lived for a short time in New York City, where she was a layout designer at Junior Bazaar magazine.
At an art show opening in Cincinnati, she met John Stogdell Stokes Jr., of Philadelphia, who was living in the city on business. They were married in June 1947 and settled in Chestnut Hill, where they raised five children. They divorced in 1972.
Beginning in 1959, Mrs. Stokes was active for many years with the Guild House, the activity center for Our Mother of Consolation Catholic Church. She worked with a local decorator to give its interior a makeover, and planned and installed a monthly changing exhibit of art prints and arranged monthly art lectures there. She also created flower arrangements for the OMC church altar.
Before she opened Concept, Mrs. Stokes was involved with the retail life of Chestnut Hill. She created window displays for several shops along Germantown Avenue and participated in the Chestnut Hill Flower Show, for which her window displays won Best in Show and other prizes.
She also, for 40 years, made custom paper lampshades incorporating hand-painted designs from the lamp base or room decor. Her shades featuring a watercolor of the Valley Green Inn with cut-out windows were especially popular – one is still on display at the inn.
After retiring from Concept, Mrs. Stokes stayed active in Chestnut Hill, volunteering at the former Bird-in-Hand consignment shop and writing an “On the Avenue” column for the Chestnut Hill Local about neighborhood shops.
In 2007, Mrs. Stokes moved to the Cathedral Village retirement community, where she wrote art exhibit reviews for the community newsletter, created evocative, month-themed posters for the library and developed programs featuring the songs of her favorite composers, especially Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington.
She is survived by a son, John Stogdell Stokes III, of San Diego; daughters Anne Stokes Hochberg, of Haverford, Mary Elizabeth Stokes, of Philadelphia, and Patricia Stephanie Stokes, of Metairie, La., and three grandchildren. Mrs. Stokes was preceded in death by her former husband in 2007, and by a son, Thomas Edward Stokes, in 2012.
A memorial service was held March 28 the the Bringhurst Funeral Home at West Laurel Hill Cemetery with interment at the cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to The Food Trust, One Penn Center, Suite 900, 1617 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Philadelphia, PA 19103. – WF