By Brad Holdhusen, Co-Founder, CEO & Board Member for Father’s Club
All too often, when an amazing human being leaves this earth, memories of them, their impact, what they did/accomplished, how they loved, etc. is too quickly forgotten. As I sit here nearly three months after Vince Stephens unexpectedly passed away on the evening of March 21, 2023, I wish I could tell you that the delay in me writing a memorial blog about him is because I intentionally wanted to wait a while so that I could resurface memories of such an amazing man. The truth… I’ve been avoiding this moment. I couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write this until now.
Because never in my life up to this point has the pain of losing someone so near and dear—not just to me, but to hundreds of people—stung so incredibly much. Although most all of the major surface level “boxes” that society likes to check were completely opposite between Vince and I, I could not have considered that man more of a “brother” to me than most anyone I’ve ever known.
Vince and I often joked about how a man from the streets of Cleveland who would rather do anything but hunt, fish or spend time in the woods, could meet a hillbilly from the fields of South Dakota who would rather do nothing but those activities. Through the world’s eyes, Vince and I couldn’t be more polar opposite… But in the deep, rich moments of our 1:1 conversations and through how our shared passion for our families, our marriages and our community knitted us together, you might’ve thought we were separated at birth. I’m so very grateful that Darrin Wolff had the foresight to introduce the two of us back during the fall of 2017.
That said, the purpose of this blog is to not articulate the chronology of Vince and I’s relationship. Furthermore, I typically would be sensitive about not writing a book of a blog.
This is one time where I will write unabated and unconcerned about how many paragraphs end up falling on the page. Vince’s life is deserving of more than a book or even a series of novels… It’s deserving of one of the most well written documentaries produced by the world’s best cinematic producer and displayed on the biggest screen for the world’s largest audience to soak in! Yes, the man was THAT impactful.
How can I make such a claim?
Because those of us who knew Vince will have never seen nor experienced a human being who understands AND LIVED OUT what the words “grace“ and “love“ really mean… I mean REALLY… more than this man did. The stories and examples that prove this to be true are too many to recant. However, know this… The overall theme of this man’s life (at least, during the time I was gifted to know and spend time with him) was way beyond the norm.
During his first F3 workout, Vince was given the nickname “Doctor Love”. The group of guys that morning clearly knew the man well. You couldn’t present a better example of someone living out and leading with love more effectively and consistently than Vince did. With that said, I would be remiss and misrepresenting why that was the case if I did not bluntly describe what (rather who) Vince quickly credited when people noticed these characteristics in the way he lived his life.
“But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” [and LOVE!… Vince’s favorite word].
1 Peter 3:15
If I heard Vince quote that verse from memory once, I heard it 1,000 times… The man ate, breathed, slept, and lived that verse daily. Like any red blooded, American male, dad, husband, father, friend, coworker etc., Vince was far from perfect (he’d be the first to tell you that). In the same respect, he didn’t live a life for the horizontal audience that surrounded him every day here on earth… Rather he lived his life for a vertical audience of 1 – Jesus.
This blog is not intended to be a sermon nor a list of recommendations on how YOU should live your life… It’s simply a respectful way to memorialize and recant the factual way in which Vince Stephens lived HIS life along with the use of words that often crossed HIS lips.
So, in closing, if I had the opportunity to say one last thing to my brother, Vince, it would be:
Well done, brother! In the spirit of the words that I have so often heard you recite from memory, your ACTIONS and how you LOVED provided you the opportunity to “share with people the reason for your hope”… The way you lived your life will forever be an inspiration and an example to me and so many others.
Your foundational initiation and involvement in starting The Father’s Club will forever be honored and upheld. That is my personal promise to you, your amazing wife, Veronica, and your 4 boys, Vince Jr., Brandon, Justin, and Dorian.
Here’s to one last, “I love you, brother!”…. Words I will miss saying to you while going in for a big “Holdy Hug”. Thank you for the forever impact you had on my life and so many others.
You will be missed… But you will NOT be forgotten!