I am very sorry to report that Dr. Mary Jane Vance recently passed away. The following obituary appeared on the Herald Banner website:
The long-time Greenville educator, consultant, author and speaker joined the choir of angels peacefully at home on January 4th, 2021. Born in Manila, Philippines on May 22, 1934, to American and Spanish parents, Jesse A. and Mary Gamero Hodges, Mary Jane lived an extraordinary life and left an indelible impact on many.
She survived Japan’s Occupation during WWII and sailed enemy waters on the USS Uruguay as the first atom bombs dropped. As a repatriated American citizen, she and the surviving members of her family arrived in San Francisco on August 13, 1945 only to experience the worst riot ever in that city on V-J Day. Her long family journey to the U.S. finally ended in Hunt County, the birthplace of her father.
She and her siblings had been without the ability to attend school for 3 years during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during WWII. Eager to enroll in school here in her new country, she quickly caught up on her missed schooling and even skipped a few grades to complete her high school diploma from Quinlan High School (Quinlan, TX). She excelled academically and graduated with honors for her undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce). During her college years she became a member of many organizations including the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa and then sorority Tooanoowee, which later became Gamma Phi Beta.
Mary Jane married the great love of her life, John Charles Vance on December 31st, 1955 and they built their home and family in Greenville Texas. While pursuing her advanced degrees, she raised two children, worked full time as an educator and administrator in several North Texas public school systems, served as GHS (Greenville High School) Flaming Flashes Drill Team Director, Cheerleader Sponsor, Twirler Advisor, and also established the first GHS Pep Squad. Charles and Mary Jane enjoyed traveling the world together and shared their travels with family and many friends over the years. The only continent they did not visit was Antarctica.
Her dedication to education spanned more than 45 years and led to achieving many “firsts” in her field. She was the first Director of Clinical Supervision for the East Texas Teacher Education Council which included 12 school districts; the first female Assistant Director and Director of the Center for Educational Field Experiences at ETSU; Dallas Area Coordinator-Texas A&M; Executive Director for the Consortium of State Organizations for Teacher Education in Texas; and, The Association of Teacher Educators International Executive Board. Later she served as the first Executive Secretary for the Consortium of State Organizations for Texas Teacher Educators (CSOTTE), which included 7 Texas higher education organizations and the Texas Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (TACTE-an organization for Deans of all Texas Colleges of Higher Education). In this capacity, Mary Jane had the honor of meeting with and lobbying on behalf of teachers in her meetings with the Texas Commissioner of Education; the State Board of Education; several Texas legislators; and then Governor George W. Bush. Dr. Vance didn’t stop there. She later became an Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University, College Station and was appointed as the first female Dallas Area Coordinator of Field Experiences for the university.
During her illustrious career, Dr. Vance received many National, State and local honors including the President’s Award, Association of Teacher Educators; Ben E. Coody Distinguished Service Award, Texas Teacher Educators; Greenville City Council Woman of the Year Award, Beta Sigma Phi; Greenville City Council PTA Dedication Award; Greenville Executive Lady Award; Woman of the Year Award, Xi Beta Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi; Teacher of the Year Award, GHS Yearbook Dedication Award; and the First ETSU Teacher of Tomorrow Award.
Mary Jane valued community service which was another driving motivator of her life. She continually supported her community by serving on several boards and was an active member in many organizations. Most recently, she served as a Board Member for the Hunt Regional Hospital Foundation/Special Events Committee and was Co-Chair of the Greater Greenville Scholarship Development Fund, TAMU-Commerce. She enjoyed speaking and frequently presented for multiple organizations including the Greenville Chamber of Commerce/Board of Development Annual Banquet; TAMU-Commerce Veterans Vigil; Greenville Lions Club; Golden Kiwanis; Kiwanis; Greenville Rotary; Commerce Rotary; Comet Club; Aesthetics Club, Audie Murphy and American Cotton Museum; Dirtdabblers Garden Club and many more. Mary Jane and her husband Charles also enjoyed participating in many dance and dinner clubs over the years, and was most recently involved in the Northeast Texas Branch of The International Wine and Food Society where she helped provide scholarships for TAMU-C students pursuing culinary and viticulture studies.
A talented musician and composer, Mary Jane also shared her gift of music by serving as pianist, organist and/or vocalist for several service organizations and numerous events all over the United States and internationally during her travels. Locally she was known for her annual sing-a-longs and always enjoyed playing the piano and singing with her sisters for many years at the Colonial Lodge Assisted Living in Greenville. A dedicated Christian, she also served many years as a member of the choir at Crestview Christian Church in Greenville. She and husband Charles later joined Wesley United Methodist Church to be with family.
Retirement for Dr. Vance meant time to fulfill her mother’s wishes of writing about the family history and their journey from Spain to the Philippines, then finally to the United States. She became a nationally recognized author and speaker during her so called “retirement” and has published several books: Mary of the Angels, a non-fiction account of family struggles in Spain to repatriation to America; Darkness to Light, a collection of family poetry/artwork; Flashes Forever: A History of The Flaming Flashes (Currently in the Smithsonian); If You Knew Susan, a tribute to her niece . . . a qualifying Olympian and astronaut; A Round Tuit, a children’s book; and several publications through the Silver Leos Writers Guild Anthologies.
Survivors include her husband of 65 years, John Charles Vance; son John C. “Chip” Vance Jr and wife Carmen E. Vance both of Greenville; daughter Mary “Missy” Vance Spears and husband Joseph Derek Spears of Dallas. 5 grandchildren: Kelsea Vance Skidmore & husband Ben Skidmore of Houston; Kacie Vance Schneider & husband Joel Schneider of Fate; John Charles “Chase” Vance III of Greenville; J. Vance Spears; and J.K. “Jake” Spears both of Dallas. Sisters Emma Hodges Smith of Greenville; Joyce Hodges Barrow of Quinlan; Rose Hodges Chieffo of Greenville; and a brother James Hodges and wife Jeanne of Tehuacana, Texas. Other survivors include numerous cousins, nieces and nephews who were always near and dear to her heart. Mary Jane also leaves many friends she loved dearly.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Mary Gamero Hodges and Jesse Allen Hodges; brother Robert “Bobby” Hodges; Lucy Hodges Collins and husband Cornelius “Buddy” Collins; brother Jesse Hodges Jr. & wife Lucia of California; sister Linnie Hodges McCormack of Greenville; sister/brother-in-laws: Carlton Smith and Johnny Barrow; Faye Vance Reynolds and Joe Reynolds; Katie Vance Hurse and Leon Hurse; Eva Lea Vance Carter and Earl Carter; niece Susan J. Reynolds and nephews Donald McCormack, John Barrow Jr, and Craig & Kathy Smith.
In lieu of flowers, the family has set up a memorial scholarship in her name to honor her love of education and request that any gifts be sent to:
P.O. Box 3425
Commerce, TX 75249
Please include “Vance Memorial Scholarship” on memo. You may also call (903) 886-5712.
The family is planning a celebration of life at a later date due to the pandemic.
Mary Jane believed in family-the one you are born into and the one you choose. If you are reading this notice, you know you were chosen!
Published on January 7, 2021