Vincent A. Stonestreet Fund and their family’s story

By: Caryn Hohnholt, KCH Chief Development & Communications Officer
Published: Nov 22, 2022

He loved unconditionally. Was generous to a fault. Protective. Funny. Complicated. Reluctantly cool. Goal-oriented. The hardest-working man I ever knew.

These are the words his family uses to describe Vincent (Vince) Stonestreet, the father of three children including Emmy award-winning actor and entertainer Eric Stonestreet. Vince was a jokester who loved to “pull funnies” as his daughter Mauria calls it, but one who also lived his life quietly and authentically. He believed that if you put your head down and did the hard work, you would succeed.

Vince’s wife Jamey laughs as she remembers their first meeting. Vince was friends with the assistant manager of the theatre where she worked part-time during high school and then junior college. He saw that “cute girl in the ticket box” and that was it for the both of them. Vince and Jamey courted for two years before they married, and for the next 57 years they worked hard and raised their three children, Paul, Mauria, and Eric, staying close to their roots in Wyandotte County where Jamey shares she was, “born, bred, and wed.”

Vincent (Vince) Stonestreet (left) holding Eric Stonestreet as a young child.

Remembering who Vince was
“He was a self-made man,” Mauria shares. “He wanted to provide a better life for his kids than he had, and he did!” But even more than that, Vince would quietly help others – friend or stranger – without hesitation, asking for nothing in return and doing his best to stay out of the spotlight. “There are so many things he did for others that we didn’t even know about until after he was gone. I have a friend who is a special education teacher and she would take her students out for a ‘mobility day’ where they would shop for things they needed in the classroom. Dad would buy lunch for all of them but didn’t want her to tell anyone he did it, including me. That was just the kind of person he was.”

“One moment has always stuck with me,” Paul adds. “I was probably about seven years old. It was raining hard. We came to a stop sign where there was a blind man who lived in that area who was trying to get across the street. My dad got out in the pouring rain to help that man get across the street; and I NEVER forgot that. I have always thought of that as the night I learned about compassion.”

A dedicated family man, Vince wanted his children to succeed in life through hard work and education. When the family was still young, they moved to a five-acre “hobby farm” where the children took part in not only the chores to keep things running smoothly, but learned to care for plants and animals through involvement in 4-H. “I have such fond memories of everything you do in 4-H. It taught me a lot about life,” Eric shares. “Dad loved animals and loved to take care of them and help us take care of them. He bought everything that we needed and then let us keep all of the profits [from our sales]. I bought myself a 1955 Chevy when I was a sophomore in high school, and I had that money because dad set us up for success.”

Even after the kids grew up and moved out, Vince and Jamey’s love for their little acreage continued on. Each owned a lawn mower and Jamey shares that their favorite “romantic outing” was going across the street to mow the grass. “They were cute,” Mauria adds. “Sometimes you’d see them across the street, racing their lawn mowers.”

Vince was a goal-oriented man and although he didn’t have the opportunity, his greatest goal for each of his children was that they finish college, and they did. As for their chosen career, his only hope for them was that they be happy. Paul knew landscaping was what brought him joy and he built a landscaping company from scratch, Mauria became an autism specialist and now serves as executive director of a local nonprofit, and Eric became an Emmy award-winning actor and entertainer. Even with their greatest successes, they attribute much of it to the love and support of their parents. Eric dedicated his first Emmy to Vince and Jamey, sending it home with them so they could see “every day and every night, what [they] made possible”.

The family spent a lifetime laughing together, working together, and doing their best to share kindness in their beloved Kansas City community. When the children moved out on their own, Vince and Jamey began to travel more often – with many of those trips still focused on family, whether visiting Mauria in Illinois during the 13 years she lived and worked in Chicago, or visiting extended family in New Mexico where Vince was sure to pick up a Native American treasure to lovingly add to his collection. Eric recounts this time of their lives as special because they each got to know their dad as a friend, not just a parent.

Eric Stonestreet (left) with his father Vincent Stonestreet.

Kansas City Hospice (KCH) provides in-home hospice care
In 2017 Vince was diagnosed with cancer, and for the next four years he and his family tried everything available to them to fight this deadly disease. He’d start medication that would work for awhile, and then would stop and they would try something else. In the end, Vince was going in for a transfusion every week. “It got to be so tiring for him,” Jamey shares. “And it wasn’t helping him feel any better.”

After discussion with his family, Vince made the decision to stop curative treatment. Eric researched the best available options and reached out to Kansas City Hospice where Vince soon started home hospice care. He had set and achieved many goals throughout his lifetime, and his final goal was to make it to the age of 80. Once again, he achieved what he set out to do. Vince took his last breath on his birthday, the same date he had drawn his first breath 80 years before.

“[Kansas City Hospice] wasn’t here very long, but they were wonderful,” Jamey recalls. “He died on his birthday, and that’s what he wanted. He wanted to be at home. If it came time to go to Kansas City Hospice House he was ready for that, but it worked out that they were able to handle all of his care here and everyone was just really, really good.”

“They were comforting,” Mauria adds. “It’s difficult to find the right words to describe it, but it’s like they just knew. Even though we were all coping with it differently, they knew just how to help each one of us.”

Establishment of the Vincent A. Stonestreet Fund
Although the loss of Vince is difficult, the family agreed that his legacy of kindness and generosity will live on. With seed gifts from Eric and Jamey, they established the Vincent A. Stonestreet Fund at Kansas City Hospice which was officially announced on November 17, 2022, Vince’s birthday and anniversary of his death. “My family wanted to do something to keep his memory and generosity alive and well, so we seeded a fund at Kansas City Hospice. They do amazing work and were such a blessing to our family at the end of his life,” Eric shared in his announcement.

Eric shares that his dad was always “a kid at heart,” and so their first priorities for the fund will be to help grant wishes for pediatric patients who are being served by Kansas City Hospice. In addition, this fund will support KCH pediatric home health and hospice programs to ensure these families have access to the care they need, and help support patients of all ages who do not have resources to pay.

The establishment of this fund is a major milestone for Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care and we are grateful to the Stonestreet family for their generosity toward our community’s most fragile little ones as well as individuals and families facing serious illness and end of life with little to no resources. Anyone interested in supporting this work can make a contribution to the Vincent A. Stonestreet Fund. 100% of donations to this fund will support hospice care for vulnerable pediatric and adult patients, as well as help fulfill wishes for pediatric patients. Each year, Kansas City Hospice provides more than $500,000 in uncompensated care and serves more than 5,400 families. Of these, between 50 and 100 little ones facing serious illness receive critical services through KCH Carousel Pediatric Care.

For more about this story read the People magazine article Eric Stonestreet and Family Honor His Late Dad with a New Fund for Pediatric Hospice: ‘He Loved Helping Kids’.

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