|STEPHEN P. VANCE
AUGUST 29, 1939 - OCTOBER 27, 2015
Stephen Peyton Vance died on October 27, 2015 in Portland, Maine after a short illness. He was 76. He is survived by his brother Thomas, sister Ellen, his three children, Melissa and her husband Hugh Hayes, Jonathan and his wife YiYi, and Julianne Vance and her companion, Ben Kennedy. Also, his loving grandsons, Hugh V. Hayes III and Carter V. Hayes of Maryland; Gabriel Vance of Florida, and Henry Paris of Maine. Last, but certainly not least, Ben's dog, Viggo, who became Stephen's adoring and much appreciated and loved companion in the final months of his life.
Stephen was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in August of 1939, the first offstpring of Harriet and Frank Vance. He was schooled in Oklahoma and Idaho, where he graduated from Idaho Falls High School before enrolling in Montana State University in Bozeman. He left MSU late in his freshman year, volunteering for enlistment in the U. S. Air Force. This move was perhaps the most important in his life because it revealed his exceptional talent for acquiring new and difficult languages which he could master with seeming ease.
The Air Force quickly recognized his aptitude and ordered him to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut for an intensive year of studying and learning Mandarin Chinese. This was the beginning of Stephen's life-long adventure involving many lanquages, mostly Asian, in the service of his country. While at Yale, he met and later married Janet Poe of Orange, Connecticut in 1959 before they embarked the following year on his first overseas assignment in the Republic of Taiwan.
Following the end of his initial obligation to the Air Force, Stephen left the service to seek even greater challenges. Within a year, he accepted a position with the U. S. Department of State which became his career endeavor for over 30 years. During this lengthy period, he served his country in assignments throughout Asia, including China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and the Republic of South Korea. At the same time, he completed his studies for a BA degree in Chinese at the University of Maryland and later his MA from Georgetown University. He also became steadily proficient in several Chinese dialects such as Shanghai and Cantonese, and other languages including Japanese and Korean.
As they traveled about, Stephen and Janet's family grew with the addition of four children: Steven, Melissa, Julianne, and Jonathan. Regrettably, Steven died in his fifties after a long illness.
Following his retirement from government service, Stephen's interest in languages did not diminish. He became particularly interested in the tribal language of the Washo, a unique group of American natives whose tribal lands were centered on Lake Tahoe. While studying Washo, and become friends with members of the tribe in Nevada, Stephen found words that he believed could be related to early Asian languages including Chinese.
Stephens's life was shortened by a virulent disease that attacked him suddenly without warning and spread quickly, but not before he was able to live a very rich and productive life in the service of his country often far from family and friends. He will live on in the memories of his family, friends and professional colleagues with love, deep admiration and respect.