In Memory

Vance Edward Stokes, Jr.

Suicide January 10, 2005

Vance Edward Stokes Jr., 57, of Las Vegas, passed away Saturday, Jan. 10, 2005.

He was born May 5, 1947, in Reno, and resided in Las Vegas for 44 years. Vance was a pit boss for the Riviera Casino for 14 years. He also loved to play pool.

Vance is survived by his son, Daniel Stokes of Las Vegas; daughters, Mia Michelle Bale and Melissa Ann Jennings; sister, Linda Winters, all of Tulsa, Okla.; 12 grandchildren; and three nephews.

 Interred at Boulder City Cemetery. 

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03/10/15 09:42 AM #1    

Ronnie Vause

It seems a good idea to write about Vance. Vance was fiercely loyal and always a good friend. When I got out of the Navy in 1970 he got me a job. Then, over many years sent a lot of business my way. I know that he stayed in touch with a lot of his friends from the past including LVHS '65 and of course he had lots of friends in the gaming arena. Too bad he left us early, some miss him and his friendship.

Ronnie Vause

01/23/16 01:10 PM #2    

Jill Barnard

Mia Michelle Stokes Hagin wrote this wonderful tribute to her father, Vance, on January 9, 2016, and posted it on Facebook:


11 years ago tomorrow Jan, 10, 2005, we buried my father. He left behind my sister, my brother and me along with 13 grandchildren, 3 nephews and his only sister.  He left all of us to bear the pain he couldn't.

I knew my father was feeling lonely. We had talked about it on the last phone call I had with him.  I tried to talk him into moving here to be with my sister, my aunt and myself, but my dad didn't like change.  He had held the same line of work for 30 plus years and had been working at the same casino for years as the casino pit boss.

My father had been in my thoughts heavily for several days so I called my dad and left a message for him to call me at work.  He returned my call the same day but I was with a client and I couldn't take the call.  I tried to call him back the next day but no answer.  Now, in the aftermath of everything... I know that when I returned his call the next day he was already dead.

It was 11 years ago this month that I was called over the loud speaker at work to please pick up line 2. My aunt (dad’s sister) was on the phone and I heard her say "He's dead"! My father had rarely missed a day of work but when he did he always called ahead of time. The casino hadn't heard from him in 3 days and he had missed all 3 days of work.  My brother went to dad’s house and found him dead. I was now sitting on the floor of the office listening to my aunt, but all I could hear in my head over and over again was 3 days! 3 days! 3 days! He laid there 3 days!

My dad was a beautiful piano player. Some of my sweetest memories of my dad are of me sitting next to him on the piano bench listening to him play. The song my dad always sang to me while I was growing up was written by the Beatles, "Michelle Ma Belle".   My dad would play it on the piano and we would sing the words.

The very last memory I have of my dad was when he came to visit me and we had dinner together just the two of us. We went to a little Irish pub here in Tulsa called Paddy's.  It was special!  We laughed a lot and we really enjoyed our time together. When he was leaving he hugged me. And those of you who knew my dad knew when you were hugged by him.  He was the best hugger!  He said goodbye and told me. “If anybody can do it, Mitch ma belle, you can.” I laughed and said "Oh stop it dad!  (He and my older brother would call me Mitch as a shorter version of Michelle).  I remember this memory vividly, because although we were laughing I could see that my father was choking back tears.  He kissed my forehead for the last time and he was gone. Perhaps he knew that was the last hug and kiss?

Maybe he did say "GOODBYE"?

Maybe the song he sang to me all those years growing up was left imprinted in my memory because he knew I would need it on days like today.  I don't know… He lived another year after visiting me and we only had 4 conversations over the phone that year.  Regrets are brutal!

I really needed my dad to be alive and present!  I think out of all my years alive, this past year I needed and missed him the most.  I needed him to be a grandfather to my kids. It's been 11 years and I still have moments where I get mad at him for leaving.  My dad obviously was depressed and his depression was obviously the kind that he couldn't see any light at the end. I could have helped him.  I could have gotten him help. But when you live so far away from your loved ones you don't always know the truth about what's going on in their lives.  Like I said, regrets are brutal!

I am certain of this…My side of the family is a family full of fighters! We don't quit! We take a beating and we keep on ticking! We come from a strong blood line of physical strength and determination. We have strong bones and we don't bow or break easily.  My father was a strong man and he had the biggest heart!  He was sensitive to others and he was always willing to help someone in need. Perhaps he was more sensitive than we knew… He loved deeply and obviously felt pain even deeper. With all that being said I still don't understand how he got to the place he did.  What could have been so bad that he actually pulled the trigger?  It's been 11 years since his death and that's the one question to which I won't ever have an answer.

My father left his mark on all of our lives.  He left his love along with the scar of suicide. The scar runs deep, but so does our family love. A friend told me the other day that "Scars are a testament that you can love deeply and live deeply. You can be cut or even gouged, but you will heal and you will continue to live and continue to love.  Scar tissue makes the flesh stronger than it was before.”

I wish I could say you get used to people dying, or that you will stop missing them over time. The truth is you never stop missing them. Time just toughens you up and you become less sensitive to their absence in your life.  When you experience the sudden death of someone you love or the death of a child, you go through a traumatic grieving process. This kind of death is not just painful, but it triggers an emotionally complicated and conflicted process.


The most important thing I have learned through trauma and grief is that the antidote is GOD, honesty, and support.

We all must educate ourselves about suicide so it never strikes again within our family. We must stay together, supporting one another and standing as FAMILY in its strongest possible form.

I miss my dad but I see so much of him in my own kids, and my nieces and nephews that it puts the sweet back into the bitter.

12/31/16 10:20 PM #3    

Judy Dennison

These photos of Vance snd his wife were posted on facebook by his daughter Mia Stokes Hagin.  She gave me permission to post them here.  Vance and his wife later divorced but I don't know when.  

01/01/17 12:18 PM #4    

Linda Buckley (Martin)

A very powerful memorial to him.

01/01/17 12:45 PM #5    

Judy Dennison

01/01/17 01:43 PM #6    

Ronnie Vause

Vance's wife's name is Sandy. I know they split up in the summer of 1970 and if memory serves me correctly they got back together at least once but eventually did divorce. Vance was crazy about his daughters. I was fortunate to have spent some time with him the last several years. He hung out at a bar across the street from UNLV called "Cheers". (They had some pool tables and often sponsored tournaments at which Vance won a few trophy's.) I'd often meet up with him there and we'd tip a few and he'd talk about his daughters a lot. It was quite a shock to get the news he passed and the circumstances, he was really everything his daughter said, he liked to help when he could, he is missed by all of us I'm sure.

Ronnie Vause  

01/03/17 12:08 PM #7    

Kristina Speer (Cooper)


So so sorry to hear this sad news.  




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