Houston has lost its First Lady of Food. Cleverley Stone passed away Thursday of cancer, according to a just-issued press release. She was 68.
Stone was a much-loved figure in Houston's dining scene, not only for her journalistic skills, radio show and television appearances but also for her philanthropy. She founded Houston Restaurant Weeks in 2003, which became the city's largest annual fundraiser for Houston Food Bank. Over the years, it has raised more than 16.6 million dollars providing an estimated 44 million meals to those in need.
Known as "The Diva of Dining", Stone began her career in New York City as bridal director and head buyer of china, crystal and silver for B. Altman and Company, a luxury department store. Stone arrived in Houston in 1989 to serve as the corporate bridal director for Foley's department stores, managing the bridal registry for more than 40 of its stores throughout the southwest. She also began writing a weekly Sunday newspaper column for The Houston Post and eventually became its Wedding section editor.
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After the Post folded in 1995, Stone began her own newsletter about Houston's burgeoning dining scene, sending it (by fax) to friends and restaurant industry connections. The advent of email gave her newsletter even more exposure and soon Stone was hosting a three-hour weekly radio talk show. The Cleverley Stone Food Talk Radio Show first aired in 2003 and featured celebrity chefs, local restaurateurs and other industry experts discussing food, wine and dining.
Over the years, Stone became a familiar face on local television channels with her appearances on KHOU's Great Day Houston and The After Party with Ernie Manouse on KUHT/PBS. She was also a regular contributor to Houston's Fox 26 Morning News on KRIV, interviewing numerous restaurant owners and chefs, helping to expose some of Houston's smaller businesses to the dining public.
Stone also started an online social media group called Houston Foodie Friends in which she occasionally had to play the Momma Bear as moderator and keep everyone civil and respectful. It is through social media that much of her extended family of foodies discovered that she was battling uterine cancer. She was open about her illness and urged women reading her posts to have their yearly well woman exams.
Stone is survived by her daughter Katie, son-in-law Joe and grandson Luca. A celebration of her life is being planned when current circumstances permit. Those wishing to give donations in her memory are encouraged to give to Houston Food Bank, an organization that was very close to her generous heart.