Maintaining her characteristic grace to the end, Stephanie died of cancer in Middle River, Md., on Nov. 17, 2023. She was a native of Cumberland, Md., where her family’s roots extended to before the Civil War. A graduate of Allegheny High School there, she was senior class president and the school’s first exchange student—to Portugal.

After earning her A.B. in sociology, Stephanie followed her entrepreneurial instincts. Having researched the history of western Maryland, she founded and ran her own tour company, Queen City Tours, that guided visitors around the region. Later, her consummate “people skills” made her an excellent real estate agent, working with several companies and eventually becoming a broker with her own agency, Gates Realty.

Stephanie never remained on the sidelines if she perceived that a situation demanded attention. She was an activist, committed to education and helping others. Raised in the Episcopal Church, she knew her Bible well but also explored the teachings of various other religions; spirituality was important to her. Even in throes of her illness, she was not merely uncomplaining; in the hospital she learned the names of all those who helped her, including those who cleaned her room, and thanked them. Gratitude was part of who she was, and her ability to make anyone she knew feel “seen” had a lasting effect.

Stephanie loved Princeton and was proud of being an alumna. When her cousin Henry Louis Gates, Jr., suggested that she apply to Yale and follow in his footsteps there, she refused: Instead, she wanted to be the first member of the Gates family to attend Princeton! (And she was.) Stephanie returned to campus for Reunions and She Roars, was a member of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni, and interviewed prospective students for the Alumni Schools Committee.       

Stephanie was predeceased by her parents and by her life partner, Dwight Pearman. She is survived by her brother, Bruce Gates, Jr.; many close cousins; and the many friends and acquaintances who remember her with affection. We are among those who mourn her loss.

Stephanie’s family and friends have created an endowed prize in her name in the Department of African American Studies. Contributions can be made by checks payable to “Princeton University,” with “Stephanie Gates ’75 Prize” in the memo line, then mailed to Princeton University Alumni and Donor Records, Attn.: Helen Hardy, P.O. Box 5357, Princeton, NJ 08543-5357.

Undergraduate Class of 1975