Stephanie was born in 1963 in Los Angeles, CA. She was the first of two daughters that Elizabeth Ann Jewell and Phillip Eugene Hamm adopted. They lived in California for almost ten years. Stephanie always felt this is where she acquired her lifelong love of the beach.
The family moved to the Kansas City metro in 1972. After a few different houses, they finally settled in Leawood. Her mother became a Royals Lancer, bringing her daughters to the stadium while she worked to sell season tickets. Stephanie quickly became an avid fan, which she remained for the rest of her life. A particularly fond memory of hers was when her mom threw a party including folks from the Royals organization, and George Brett pushed her face into a pie!
Growing up, her younger sister Alicia would call her “the evil sister” because of Stephanie’s incessant teasing. It was just Steph’s way to relieve boredom and have fun. Their mom always said that Alicia was the quiet one who was content with her toys and colors for hours, while Steph only lasted about five minutes before screaming for something to do. Alicia also called Stephanie her “big little sister” because she towered over Steph by inches. Stephanie was a typical older sister, but also the best sister anyone could have.
Stephanie’s love of baseball led to her finding her soulmate, Bill Herndon. She went to a recreational baseball game where Bill was playing. She thought he looked cute in his baseball tights. They married in Las Vegas on May 4, 1996 (Star Wars day AND Kentucky Derby day!). Alicia always teased that Stephanie planned her ceremony around watching the Derby.
A couple of years later, Stephanie and Bill moved to Las Vegas. It was the perfect place for them—just a short drive to the beach, which they travelled to many times. It was also where she discovered her love for beagles, with Bailey, then Abby, and finally Raider becoming a part of her and Bill’s family.
In 2012, Stephanie went to her first live horse race, the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, with her sister. She wasn’t sure about going, thanks to her mom saying that Alicia would run around taking pictures all day and leave her alone in the stands. This didn’t happen, and Steph ended up having a blast! At the end of the day, they stopped at the gift shop. They ended up behind two jockeys while waiting to pay. Stephanie’s observation as they left the shop was, “Oh man, they ARE small, aren’t they?!” This from a lady who was 4’11” and probably 90 lbs. She had so much fun at that first race that she attended several more Breeders’ Cups. She also became quite a good handicapper, especially in picking long shot winners.
Steph was always there for her family and friends, and had tremendous compassion for everyone around her. She also was very courageous and brave, although she would never say it of herself. When she was 50, her battle with cancer started. The first round, she came through with flying colors. She was cancer-free for a couple of years, until she turned 55. Cancer returned in a very aggressive form of metastatic breast cancer. Despite a terminal diagnosis, Stephanie remained positive. She never gave up fighting for her quality of life, and hoping the doctors would find a cure. Her fight inspired her family and friends—a family friend with ovarian cancer said that Stephanie has given her the strength to continue her own fight.
She is preceded in death by her mother Liz Jewell, father Phil Hamm, and stepfather Max Jewell. She is survived by her husband Bill Herndon (Las Vegas, NV), sister Alicia Hamm (Leawood, KS), stepsisters Jaime Medley (Carmel, IN) and Megan Jewell (Laguna Beach, CA), and numerous extended family and friends.
Stephanie was a shining star that brightened the lives of everyone who knew and loved her.
Services will be held August 26th, at 11:00AM. Followed by an Open House Picnic at 12:00PM, at 4540 West 124th Terr, Leawood, Kansas, 66209.