Stephen Thomas Vano, Jr. died on July 20, 2021, just a few weeks shy of his 74th birthday. He died in Harlingen, Texas, the community where generations of students have been shaped by his devoted career as a teacher.
Born in McAllen, Texas, Steve spent most of his life in the Rio Grande Valley, and much of that time fishing along the shore at South Padre Island. After serving in the U.S. Navy as a radio operator in the submarine service, Steve returned to complete his education at Pan American University. He then began his true vocation, teaching first at Mercedes Junior High School, and then for 24 years at Coakley Junior High School in Harlingen. Even in retirement, Steve couldn’t stay away from the classroom, and chose to teach another generation of students at St. Alban’s Episcopal Day School.
You didn’t have to be one of his students to have been shaped by his friendly spirit. He truly never met a stranger. This is how Steve will be remembered: whether showing you how to cast a line, how to hit the cut-off man in a baseball game, or to understand the themes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, he was always a generous and good-humored teacher.
Steve will be missed by his beloved Nancy, to whom he was married for 46 years, and by their two sons, Stephen (Mary) of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Andrew (Natalie) of Napa, California. His spirit and legacy will be carried on by his grandchildren Drew, Matthew, Judson, and Maisie Lou. Steve will also be lovingly remembered by his younger siblings: Kathy Keyes of Harlingen, Ronald Vano (Joyce) of Harlingen, Karen Reynolds (Tony) of Harlingen, and Julie Sanders of Houston; and by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Steve is preceded in death by his parents, Stephen and Mary Ann Vano, and by his youngest sister Kristine Vano Melton.
A memorial service will be held at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Harlingen at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 24. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Alban’s Episcopal Day School. (Click the link below to view a live-stream of the memorial service.)
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