PORTSMOUTH , N.H., – Lois (Burns) Stevens, 91, died peacefully Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, surrounded by love.

She was born in Rockport, Maine, to Orra (Meader) and Orris Burns.

“Burnsie” was a widely-loved physical therapist and tireless champion in the treatment of polio patients in the state of Maine.

Her many patients have said how she taught them not only how to walk again, but how to hope again. She inspired countless people, not only patients, to see the best, do their best and hope for the best.

She led a lifetime of nurturing, helping and healing, and was a loving, happy soul, prone to peals of ringing laughter.

She graduated from Sargent College with a degree in physical education and taught from 1941 to 1945.

In 1945, she attended Harvard Medical School for the registered physical therapist program and after graduation in 1946, was sent to a Jackson, Miss., polio clinic to work with patients early in the epidemic.

She returned home to Maine in 1947 and became a specialist in the treatment of polio patients at the Hyde Home in Bath. It was there that she would meet her future husband, Arthur Stevens, who was a polio survivor in 1950, and a Navy Veteran of World War II.

Lois’s professional career continued at Regional Memorial Hospital in Brunswick in 1965. She was head of the first physical therapy department until her retirement in 1978. She continued to work another three years as a visiting therapist for the Brunswick-Bath area Community Home and Nursing Services.

She was active in the Pine Tree Society of Maine, and was a board member for the Post Polio Support Group of Maine for nearly two decades. She remained a firm proponent of childhood vaccinations in debate on the issue.

She was a life member of the American Physical Therapy Association, and the Order of the Eastern Star, Ocean View Chapter 291 of Camden-Rockport.

She is survived by her sons, Edward and his wife, Cathy, of North Hampton, N.H., and Ronald and his wife, Janice, and their two children and grandchildren, of Paris, Maine; as well as many nieces and nephews, who called her “Sweet Aunt Lois.”

She was predeceased by her husband, Arthur; and her siblings, Orris Burns Jr., Dorothy Kennedy, and Caroline Barrows.

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