Educator, clubwoman. Stackhouse was born at Blenheim in Marlboro County on December 14, 1885, to the Baptist minister Rufus Ford and Harriet Temple. She graduated from the Bennettsville high school at age fourteen. An honors graduate of Limestone College in 1904, Stackhouse received both A.B. and A.M. degrees and a diploma from the Winnie Davis School of History. At the University of Chicago, Stackhouse earned a Ph.B. in 1914 and an M.A. in 1927. Beginning in 1906, she taught education, psychology, and philosophy and ethics at Limestone College. From 1920 until her marriage in June 1932, Stackhouse served as dean of the faculty. In recognition of her twenty-six years of service, the college bestowed on her an honorary doctorate in education (Ed.D.) in 1932, dedicated a dormitory in her name in 1939, and made her dean emerita in 1969. Her husband, Thomas Bascom Stackhouse (1857–1939), a widower, had been a teacher, a farmer, a cotton mill executive, and a banker. Having no children, they adopted as a daughter Eunice Stackhouse’s niece, Jacqueline Roper Stackhouse, who later taught social work at Winthrop University.
With his wife’s concurrence, T. B. Stackhouse bequeathed his Columbia home to the South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs. Eunice Stackhouse, a federation vice president, chaired its department of education (1936), its adult education section (1939), and its division of community service and correctional institutions (1943). Honored as “the fairy godmother of the Federation,” Stackhouse, who lived in an upstairs apartment, donated space in her home for its headquarters and purchased office equipment. When the South Carolina Citizens Committee on Children and Youth was organized in 1947, she turned her dining room into a conference room for a biracial meeting of twenty-seven statewide organizations.
In 1942 Governor Richard M. Jefferies appointed Stackhouse as the first woman to serve on the South Carolina Probation, Pardon and Parole Board. In 1946, while in Washington, D.C., participating in a panel on preventing juvenile delinquency, she shared a table in the Justice Department’s cafeteria with the black woman president of the Parent-Teachers Association of New Jersey. Progressive on race relations, Stackhouse said that this felt “no different” than eating with a white woman since they were “both professional women, interested in the same questions.” In a letter to the editor of the State published on August 23, 1955, Stackhouse described her biracial activities that included organizing a woman’s club for black women. She belonged to several biracial groups, among them the South Carolina Council on Human Relations, and also worked to improve conditions at the Colored Boys Industrial School. After the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, Stackhouse urged whites to find ways of cooperating with blacks rather than blocking desegregation. The racial problem, she said, was “fundamentally more a question of culture than it is of color.”
In the June 1957 issue of the South Carolina Clubwoman, her longtime friend Alice Spearman described Stackhouse as “definitely a pioneer,” particularly in race relations and care of the elderly. Stackhouse was named woman of the year by the National Society of the Colonial Dames in 1969, and in April 1972 she received the Two Thousand Women of Achievement award in London. A prolific author, she wrote essays, pamphlets, and three books, including a biography of her father, The Beloved Divine (1948), completed with the assistance of her brother. Stackhouse died at the Methodist Home in Orangeburg on February 2, 1980.
“Dr. Stackhouse, Dean, Civic Leader, Dies.” Columbia State, February 3, 1980, p. C14.
McMillan, Montague. Limestone College, a History: 1845–1970. Gaffney, S.C.: Limestone College, 1970.
“Mrs. Stackhouse Suggests Fields for Racial Cooperation.” Columbia State, August 23, 1955, p. B12.
“Women’s Federation Pays Tribute to Mrs. Stackhouse.” Columbia State, May 5, 1959, p. B2.