William Webb Van Stone

Van StoneWilliam Webb Van Stone, 92, on September 22, 2021, peacefully, surrounded by family at his home in Philadelphia, Pa. Bill was born on March 14, 1929, to Wilfred D. Van Stone and Cora (Kampf) Van Stone in Denver, Colo. He majored in chemistry at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and earned a medical degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1955, before serving in the U.S. Navy for two years. He completed his psychiatric residency at the Menninger School of Psychiatry in Topeka, Kans., where he met and, in 1958, married Joan Kinnear. In 1967, they moved their young family to Palo Alto, Calif., where they raised their three children.

Bill made lasting contributions to the field of psychiatry and, through his work at the Veterans Administration, to the lives of countless veterans. He believed that “no patient should be abandoned as hopeless in a psychiatric setting,” and he put that belief into practice with his work as chief of the Psychiatric Unit at the Topeka VA Hospital and as assistant chief of staff in the Palo Alto VA Medical Center, Menlo Park Division. He inspired his staff to create innovative programs that eliminated long-term inpatient care in favor of effective outpatient services, supportive housing, and other community mental health programs. He also helped to create nationally recognized substance addiction and PTSD programs for Vietnam vets. In 1989, Bill was invited to work at Veterans Affairs headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served until he retired as associate chief of mental health in 2009. Building on his earlier work, he helped lead the movement at the VA to replace long-term custodial care with more effective alternatives for rehabilitation of chronic mentally ill veterans. Bill published widely, authoring 35 journal articles and book chapters.

Bill was always involved in community organizations, volunteering as a tireless supporter and founding board member of the Community School of Music and Arts, which his wife cofounded in 1968. While in Washington, D.C., they were active members of Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. He actively pursued his lifelong love of music, playing the saxophone and bassoon and singing in many choruses.

Some years after the death of his first wife, Bill met Philadelphian JoAnn Seaver, and they married in a Quaker wedding in 2010. They created a home and community together in the West Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, with time out for travel. He joined nearby Green Street Meeting and generously participated in Quaker projects. He enjoyed attending Friends General Conference Gatherings and discussing non-theism. He never wanted to miss the annual meetings of Friends Committee on National Legislation with the chance to lobby. He faithfully participated in monthly Experiment with Light sessions. Having attended Swarthmore College as an undergraduate, he considered himself a latent Quaker and embraced becoming an active member.

Throughout his life, Bill was known for his humor, his integrity, his being a good listener, his insights, and his kindness and persistence in helping others.

Bill is survived by his second wife, JoAnn Seaver; three children, Lisa Van Stone (Troy Barbee), Kathy Van Stone (Robert Smith), and David Van Stone (Tom Selig); and two grandchildren.

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