Known for her tenacity in the boardroom and her joie de vivre in every other aspect of her life, Matilda Gray Stream died peacefully in her home on Saturday October 14th, 2023. The only child of Opal Hughes and William Kirkman ”Bill” Gray, the ninety-nine-year-old was born on March 23, 1924 in Lake Charles, LA. After spending her childhood in Louisiana, she attended and graduated from The Grier School in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and later attended Vassar College, where she earned a degree in Geology.
Throughout her life she became the confidante and protégé of her aunt and namesake, Matilda Geddings Gray, who was known for her vast land holdings and extensive art and architecture collections. In 1946 young Matilda was presented into New Orleans society as the Queen of Osiris. It was during this debutante season she met and later married Harold Henry Stream, Jr. of New Orleans. The couple moved to Pasadena, CA and raised three children, Harold Henry, III “Spook,” Sandra Gray “Sandy,” and William Gray “Gray.”
Once the children were grown, the couple returned to Louisiana and Matilda began managing the vast land, art and architectural holdings of her aunt and namesake, Matilda Geddings Gray as the President of the Gray Estate in Lake Charles, and as Trustee of the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation and the Stream Foundation in New Orleans. A generous philanthropist and a conscientious steward of natural resources, art and cultural treasures, Matilda served on the boards of directors for The New York City Ballet and The World Trade Center in New Orleans. She was named a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting, and Preservationist of the year by the Louisiana Preservation Society. While she received The Legacy Award from The Louisiana Museum Foundation, The Isaac Delgado Award from the New Orleans Museum of Art, The Founders’ Award from Save Our Cemeteries and many others, Matilda consistently credited the talent of her staff and their dedication to conservation for “making her look good.”
An adventurous world traveler, Matilda believed seeing the world was a necessary first step in being able to preserve its treasures – a passion she learned from her aunt and enthusiastically shared with her children and grandchildren.
Matilda is survived by her son, Harold Henry “Spook” Stream, III of Sun Valley, Idaho; grandchildren William Gray Stream (Katie King) of Lake Charles, LA, and Melissa Kirkman Stream Hempel (Rob) of Nashville, TN; and her great-grandchildren, Matilda, Lola and King Stream, and Geddings, Fielder, and Sanders Hempel. She is preceded in death by her parents, Opal and William Gray; husband, Harold Henry Stream, Jr.; her aunt and uncles, William, Matilda, Henry and John Gray; and children Sandra Stream Miller and William “Gray” Stream.
Her wishes were to be cremated. The family invites friends to celebrate her life on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 715 Kirkman Street, Lake Charles, Louisiana. The visitation will be from 4:00 PM until 5:00 PM in Hardtner Hall, with a Memorial Service to follow at 5:00 PM in the church. Cremation has been entrusted to Johnson Funeral Home of Lake Charles.
Expressions of sympathy may be made in whichever way you wish, and all are appreciated. In lieu of flowers, and should you care to make an honorary contribution in her name, please consider the Kent and Becky LeDoux Scholarship Fund c/o McNeese Foundation, Box 91989, Lake Charles, LA 70609; or Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 715 Kirkman Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601.