Stephanie Ann Paulk, 38: Lawyer, poet and performer

Stephanie Paulk  performed as JS van Buskirk because she didn't want her artistic life to interfere with her day job as a lawyer. She also liked the anonymity provided by her stage name, which played off a name her parents had picked for her had she been a boy.

For years, she lectured and performed poems and short stories at venues that included the Decatur Arts Festival. She self-published on, a print-on-demand publishing service. Social media played a role in some work. She once tweeted summaries of  the Shakespeare tragedies. She blogged at and as certifiedprepwn sent limericks on Twitter.

"Her writings were brilliant, sometimes quirky and sometimes elegant," said poet Randy Prunty, her husband of two years. "She has a large body of  work, but she did it for the love of art, language and literature."

In 2001, Stephanie Ann Paulk was diagnosed with a brain tumor the week she graduated from law school. She died Tuesday from complications of the disease at her home in Decatur. She was 38. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at H. M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, in Atlanta.

Mrs. Paulk graduated from The Westminster Schools, Columbia University and Emory University School of Law. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Columbia, worked various jobs, then followed the career path of her parents, James R. and Carol Paulk.

"She surprised us," her father said. "She told us she had made arrangements to get into law school."

After law school, she became an associate at  McKenna Long & Aldridge and worked there until her illness made it difficult to handle the workload. She then became a law clerk for bankruptcy Judge James E. Massey until she became disabled last year.

Mrs. Paulk had written poems since she was in fifth or sixth grade. Her writings, her father said, reflected "an old soul."

"It always had surprises for us in the things she was interested in, the maturity and independent thought," he said. "We always looked at her as a daughter and child, but her insights always seemed to be from another place and from another time."

In 2009, her book, "Tiny Bedtime Stories," was featured as a "quirky book of the week" in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The collection of adult-themed tales started out as tweets on

One example: "Momentarily lucid, an insane king wonders if delusions of grandeur are as good as the real thing. They are actually better."

Mrs. Paulk was an accomplished violinist who played with her father in the DeKalb Symphony Orchestra. She liked to camp and hike and had a broad taste in music.

"She was able to write in any style -- fiction, poetry, cartoons and tweets," her husband said. "Her mind stayed healthy until the end."

Additional survivors include her mother, Carol Paulk of Atlanta, sisters, Elizabeth Paulk of Dallas, Texas and Julia Paulk of Chicago.