Cover photo for Dan Graham Vance's Obituary
Dan Graham Vance Profile Photo
1932 Dan 2024

Dan Graham Vance

July 3, 1932 — April 14, 2024

Spruce Pine

Dan Graham Vance, age 91, left this earth and went home to be with the Lord on ­­­April 14, 2024.

He was born on July 3, 1932, in Pancake, North Carolina, not far from Plumtree, the son of Ernest and Lura Elizabeth Alice Holtsclaw Vance. 

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of 47 years, Mildred Johnson Vance, his brothers, Ben Vance and Jack Vance of Arizona, and his sister, Elizabeth (Lib) Vance Huskins Hoilman of Marion.  He was also predeceased by his half-brother, Bob Barrier; half-sisters Sylvia Vance Brickey, Lina Vance Arnold and Marguerite Vance Warden; near-brother, Joe “Doc” Mehaffey; brother-in-law Phil Johnson and sister-in-law Lucille Johnson; sister-in-law Gert Vance; sister-in-law Natalie Cornett; brother-in-law David Huskins Sr.; nephews Phil and Grady Barrier, cousin Doug Akins, and the man who was like a father to him:  Pop Jarvis.

He is survived by his daughter, Renne Vance of Durham and Crossnore, brother-in-law Corbett Johnson and wife, Judy;  sister-in-law Gloria Vance, near-brother Newland Jack Wiseman; and many nieces and nephews, including Gina Johnson Aldridge, Phillip Johnson, Michael Johnson, Michelle Johnson Clark, Maureen Vance Parker, Virginia Vance Roseberry, Theresa Vance, Rita Vance Geller, Angie Vance Taylor, Jack Vance Jr., Nina Vance Sprinkle, Jeff Vance, Mark Vance, Jim Huskins, Scott Huskins, Lisa Huskins Moore, Cindy Huskins Sitton, and Emily Brickey Akins.

Dan Vance lived his long life according to this scripture:  Psalm 37:3- “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” He was kind-hearted, fair-minded, generous, funny, always an optimist, and the best little daddy anyone could ever have.  As Woodrow Call once said, he was “Cheerful in all weathers; never shirked a task; splendid behavior.”  He was so proud to be the Earl of Pancake, and to be known as “Uncle Dan” to so many. 

Dan graduated from Crossnore High School in 1952 where he was a star athlete, and later served his country honorably in the US Army in Korea. He had a long career of public service in Avery County, serving as Register of Deeds, DOT Maintenance Supervisor, County Building Inspector, County Commissioner, and (contrary) Crossnore Town Alderman.  He was a lifelong Republican, working as a campaign manager for Jim Holshouser’s historic North Carolina Governor’s Office win in 1972, and forever a Reagan Republican.  He loved his Avery County home, always working to bring more job opportunities for its citizens and to increase prosperity and the tax base. Dan was a politician at heart and never met a stranger.  He would talk to anyone about anything for a great length of time, ranging from meth runners on Old NC105 above Linville Gorge to TSA agents at RDU airport.   

Dan was a longtime member of Crossnore Baptist Church, with over 50 years of Sunday School perfect attendance.  He was raised in the Plumtree Presbyterian Church by his father, Ernest, and the Yellow Mountain Baptist Church by his mother, Lura, but he ended up siding with the Baptists.  He tithed to his church, loved his Sunday School class, and the Crossnore Baptist preachers, especially Phil Murdock.  He was the last surviving Charter Member of the Crossnore Volunteer Fire Department, and on many a cold winter night, when the fire siren blew on Christmas Tree Hill, he tiptoed down the hall and got in the truck to answer a fire call with all of his fellow volunteer fireman.  He was a 50+year member of the Shriners and a longtime member of the Linville Masonic Lodge No. 489.  He was a lifelong blood donor, donating many, many of gallons of blood, exemplifying his desire to help people in need.

Dan ran the scoreboard for Avery County High School football and basketball games for 50 years, from 1969 until his retirement in 2019, and never put an extra second on the clock to Avery’s advantage.  Dan’s happiest hours were spent at Mountain Glen Golf Course and many other fine golf courses.  Sadly, he never made hole-in-one here on earth, but certainly there are many wide fairways and eagles waiting for him in Heaven. In all sports, he usually pulled for the underdog, especially the Boston Red Sox (even after they won 4 World Series titles.) He enjoyed watching Tommy Burleson’s extraordinary career at NC State and traveling to the games with Loren and other pals. Later, he switched loyalties to the UNC Tar Heels and loved driving on daytrips to Chapel Hill with Hugh Morton to cheer on the Tar Heels in basketball and football.  He was a “dog-lovin’ Vance” as our Nanny would say.  The following are some of the many things he loved: rabbit hunting or just listening to the beagles with his Vance, Smith, and Jackson cousins; hunting everything else with Sam Brown in and around Linville Gorge; not fishing, although he did kill one at Elk River one time; dancing with his many beautiful dancehall girls and listening to a good band; and happily mowing the yard 3 times a week on the John Deere in East Crossnore (next to the fine house he built for us in 1962.)  

Many thanks are due to all the caregivers who helped us during the past 3 years:  the ladies of   Compassionate Hearts: Alesha, Gail, Faith Marie Adkins, Amanda Winebarger and Morgan Henson Byrd; the many Cannon Hospital nurses, especially Dorothy and Brittany;  all the Lifecare staff and devoted nurses who were so good to us for 18 months, especially Debbie, Nancy, Teresa, Mae, Jessica, Bob, Sherry, Janie, Amber, Carson Burleson-the original Blue Highway girl, and Blue Highway#2,  Jeannie Johnson; and at the end, Medi-Home Hospice nurse/angels Ashley Nowell, Johnny, Kelly, and Ariel.

A graveside service will be held at the Johnson Family Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant Road, Crossnore, NC on April 17, 2024 at 11:00a.  All are welcome.

No flowers, please.  Memorial gifts may be made to the Pop Jarvis Scholarship Fund, c/o Crossnore Baptist Church, PO Box 370, Crossnore, NC  28616.

Scott Huskins Funeral & Cremation Services is in charge of the arrangements. 678.771.5566 |

To send flowers to the family in memory of Dan Graham Vance, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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