With deep sadness but profound gratitude for her life of impactful service and philanthropy, the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation shares with our community the passing of our founder Joan Kuni.
Joan and Wayne, who passed away in 2006 after battling cancer, were known throughout the region for their deep commitment to community service, dedicating both volunteer time and financial resources to medical, educational and human services organizations. In fact, the Kuni Foundation was designated as the largest shareholder of Kuni Automobile, ensuring a lasting and profound legacy of community support.
Joan was a pioneer in advocating for her sons and for other individuals with an intellectual disability. At a time when parents of disabled children were encouraged to institutionalize them, Joan made sure that her two sons had every opportunity that her two other children had. She not only embraced the philosophy of “different, not less” she quietly blazed a trail of inclusion and lifelong enrichment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In service to this mission, Joan and Wayne established the Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation in 2005 to support and enhance the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities and to support medical research, especially for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Of particular concern to Joan was how to ensure that individuals with an intellectual disability could age in place within a vibrant, supportive and stable community of their peers. After scouring the country for best practices, in 2013 Joan helped lead the development of Stephen’s Place, a 41-apartment assisted living complex for individuals and couples with intellectual disabilities. Named in honor of her son Stephen, the Kuni Foundation funded the majority of the $10 million project. The Foundation continues to provide general operating support to the Vancouver-based nonprofit, which attracts clients from throughout the country.
Joan’s determination and advocacy on behalf of her sons continues to have a profound, positive ripple effect throughout a community that is all too often marginalized. The Wayne D. Kuni & Joan E. Kuni Foundation is honored to continue her legacy of compassion, inclusion and advocacy.