Kenneth M. Vance was born Aug. 22, 1923, in Hastings, Neb., the son of Rev. M.G. and Lydia Reutlinger Vance. He graduated from the Fullerton, Nebraska High School in 1941. Ken attended the church college of the Evangelical Church, Western Union (Westmar) in Le Mars. There he met his life's mate Helen Parkinson. As America geared up for World War II, Ken went to California and worked at the Douglas Aircraft factory in Long Beach. As units were formed, Ken joined the Army Air Corps and spent nearly three years in the China-Burma-India Theater supporting British and American forces flying supplies over the Himalayas into China. Upon returning from the war, Ken pursued the long letter writing relationship with Helen and they were married in Le Mars on Feb. 23, 1946.
To this union were born four sons, whom Ken introduced to the beauty of God's creation by numerous camping trips throughout their growing years. Ken's curiosity about people, places, and things was constant until his passing. His formative years during the Great Depression gave him a generosity towards people as he spent a lifetime in work that always revolved around meeting old friends or making new acquaintances. In his earlier years he worked in retail management and sales. Soon after their marriage Ken and Helen moved to Sioux Center as managers and co-owners of V&P Variety. During his time there, Ken formed many friendships that he cherished throughout his life. After many years in sales traveling the Midwest, Ken accepted the position of associate director of development at Westmar College in 1965. In 1970 he became the Secretary of the Foundation and Director of Corporate Relations for Iowa State University. Ken's gift of meeting and working with people ultimately led him to consulting positions of major capital fund raising projects in locations from New Orleans to Ireton.
Always a small town boy at heart, Ken especially loved working with the down to earth people of the Midwest. A drive through the Sand Hills of Nebraska would always bring forth the memories of a young preacher's son traveling with his dad across the desolate, yet beautiful dunes in a Model T. He loved the Cornhuskers, not so much because he loved sports, but because they were his Huskers who he listened to on a homemade crystal radio as a youngster. And he loved homemade ice cream, because despite how little he often had as a youngster, there was always "plenty of cream" from the family cow.
Above all, Ken loved the Lord and amply poured that love into his family. Over the years Ken served on numerous church boards and committees at Calvary Church and the Le Mars Bible Church. In his later years his ministry revolved around the Gideons and Ken could be seen handing out Bibles to youngsters.
Ken is lovingly remembered by his wife of 62 years, Helen; four sons and their wives, Gary and Kathy of Coralville, Tom and Carolyn, Dick and Leslie of Le Mars, and Kirk and Sandy of Lincoln, Neb.; sisters, Virginia Geary of Norfolk, Neb., and Ardith Nelson of Eagle Lake, Texas; a brother Melvin Vance of Racine, Wis., and an uncle, Kermit Reutlinger of Tucson, Ariza. Especially precious to Ken were his 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded by his parents, a brother Vernon, a sister Wilhelmina Klemme, and step-mother Delia Vance.
Celebration of Life Services will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Le Mars Bible Church. Pastor Fred Gums will officiate. Military honors will be provided by Wasmer Post #241 of the American Legion in Le Mars. Visitation and Viewing will begin at 2 p.m. Friday at the Mauer - Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars. The family will be present from 5 to 8 p.m. with a Prayer and Sharing Service at 7 p.m. Viewing will be on Friday only as Ken has willed his body to the USD School of Medicine. Interment will take place at a later date.
The family asks that memorial gifts be directed toward the Gideons International, The Living Center in Le Mars, Siouxland Youth for Christ or a non-profit of your choosing.
Expressions of sympathy may be directed through www.mauerjohnsonfh.com.