94-year-old artist from Ashland hopes to inspire others with her drawings, life story – Wooster Daily Record

ASHLAND – Josianne Stone put herself through school in Paris after World War II so she could study fashion design. With hopes of starting her own fashion studio in Belgium once she returned, Stone was instead met with news from her mother that her parents had other plans.  
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“She said, ‘We have enough (money) to go America, but we won’t go without you, your dad and I,’ ” Stone said.  
And with that, she moved to America with her parents. While she originally only planned to stay for three years before moving back to Brussels, she fell in love and began her new life.  
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Nearly 72 years after moving to America, Stone now lives in Ashland near many of her family members and spends her days creating colored pencil drawings that share stories of her life in Belgium during the war and her view of the world now. While Stone had no idea she would be creating the art she does today, she is grateful for what she can create and hopes to inspire others.  
Stone, now 94 years old, was born in 1927 in Belgium where she grew up and lived during the Nazi occupation throughout World War II. After the war, Stone decided to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps by changing her career path to become a dress maker.  
To follow this dream, she went to Paris where she paid her way through school to study fashion design. Upon returning from school, she moved to America with her parents in 1949.  After only two years in America, Stone met her husband, Clifford Stone, in 1951. The two married a year later before moving to Long Island to be closer to his family.  
They went on to start their family, eventually raising all three of their children in New York, which Stone said was very challenging to do at the time. In the late 1960s, the two started a Christian bookstore, which they ran together for 24 years before her husband died on July 12, 1992.  
Stone went on to run the store on her own for an additional seven years before she retired in 1999. After she retired, Stone realized she had not spent much time with her son and grandchildren who lived in Ohio, and she wanted to fix that.  
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“It just came upon me I said, ‘Well, if I want to really know those boys, I better move there because in three or four years they’ll be in college,” Stone said.  
In 2005, Stone moved from New York to Ashland and eventually bought a condo where she has been living for several years.  
Stone began her journey as an artist back when she and her husband lived in New York and ran their bookstore. Outside of running their shop and attending church, Stone and her husband didn’t do much else and he wanted to change that.  
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He said the two of them should sign up for adult education classes, leading Stone to sign up for an art class where she found a new passion.  
“I took a class and the teacher said, ‘You opened a Pandora’s Box. …You’re just very prolific,’” Stone said.  
From that class, Stone went on to make several colored pencil drawings before having to stop due to how busy their lives were getting with work at the bookstore. It wasn’t until Stone retired that her children pleaded and eventually convinced her to return to drawing.  
Around the several hours she volunteered, Stone signed up for more classes at Nassau Community College and started to draw more during her free time. She brought her drawings and skills with her when she moved to Ashland and has continued to draw ever since.  
While she no longer volunteers and can’t have her family over for weekly dinners anymore, Stone said she spends her time drawing everything from dogs, horses and birds to buildings and sailboats and she enjoys every minute of it.  
Over the years as Stone has created drawings for her family, friends and those close to her, including one she made that now hangs in the sanctuary of a church, but she has also created other things to share with the world.  
In 2013, she wrote a poem titled “Thank You” where she shares her perspective of American soldiers coming into Belgium during World War II and thanks those veterans. The poem was published in the Ashland Times-Gazette later that year and this year she passed out copies of the poem on Veterans Day.  
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With the help of her children, especially her daughter Gigi, Stone recently self-published an autobiography titled “My Miracles … God’s Grace at Work.” In the book, Stone shares a detailed account of her life with drawings and pictures throughout.  
Stone also has been working on a second book titled “From War to Peace by HIS Grace: Reflections of my Life through World War II and 2020.” The book, which will not come out until next year, is a collection of vignettes about her life and drawings to help illustrate them.   
With all the things she has done throughout her lifetime, Stone said she enjoys creating her art and is hopeful that she will be able to lead others to pursue their passions as well.  
“I hope that this inspires retired people to get into something where their heart and soul is in it because all of a sudden you feel yourself in a different world,” Stone said.  
Reach Rachel Karas at [email protected]  
On Twitter: @RachelKaras3