Friends and colleagues remember John Vance
Published: 02-05-2024 2:31 PM
Modified: 02-08-2024 10:58 AM
When Chris Heider joined ConVal Community Dollars for Scholars six years ago, he said the name John Vance “was always legendary” within the organization.
“It was kind of the first thing you heard about John Vance,” he said. “You ask, ‘Who’s John Vance?’ and you find out,” he said.
Vance was a driving force behind the formation of Dollars for Scholars, a group of volunteers who award scholarships to ConVal students facing personal challenges or financial issues. Heider, Dollars for Scholars’ president, said the organization gave out over $90,000 last year, and sinc 2007, it has supported 118 students to the tune of $609,000. Its largest scholarship – an award of $16,000 to Jada Stevens of Dublin in 2023 – is named for Vance.
When Heider first joined Dollars for Scholars, he was able to meet with Vance, but those opportunities fell off due to COVID. However, he said Vance was still interested in Dollars for Scholars, stayed connected by email and wanted to know about the students.
“Luckily, we reconnected starting last year where I could visit him and talk to him,” Heider said.
Vance died Jan. 28 at the age of 100.
Vance’s local endeavors also included the Downtown 2000 in Peterborough and Monadnock Business Ventures, a group that worked on ways to promote the region’s economy. Waterhouse Restaurant owner and Depot Square Partnership co-owner Cy Gregg worked with Vance in Monadnock Business Ventures, and said Vance always tried to help activities that would benefit the town.
One of the group’s projects was the old NCR building on Route 202, which Gregg said the company basically gave to them to redevelop. Before selling the building, MBV used it as an incubator for people to start projects and help get financing.
“It worked pretty well,” Gregg said. “We were successful in developing businesses at that location.”
Gregg said Vance was always easy to work with.
“He was always looking for ways to accomplish things,” he said. “He didn’t have an agenda; he just wanted to make things happen. He wanted to work with people who wanted to help him do that. There was nothing in it for him.”
Gregg also said Vance was good at listening to ideas, which he attributed to Vance’s time as an executive. Vance was executive vice president at the McGraw-Hill publishing company and vice president and general manager at Xerox Publishing Group.
“You don’t get to that level without considering that people have as good an idea as yours,” he said.
Carole Monroe came to the region in 2000, when she joined Franklin Pierce University as its chief information officer. Vance reached out to her in 2002 to join Monadnock Connect, an effort to bring high-speed internet to the region that was under Monadnock Business Ventures and modeled on Berkshire Connect in Massachusetts.
“He was an incredibly motivated person,” she said. “He had a vision, and he got the right people together to move that vision forward.”
Monroe and Vance worked together on Monadnock Business Ventures and Monadnock Connect for about four years, but the experience led to the next phase of her career working in the broadband industry, which she continues to do as a consultant.
“It really kick-started my desire to move this forward,” she said.
When Vance lived in Dublin, he was a member of the town’s Budget Committee, and he recruited Monroe’s husband Charlie Champagne to replace him when he left. Since then, Champagne has run not just for the Budget Committee, but also the Select Board.
“He had a way of making you feel enthusiastic about it and then letting you run with it,” said Monroe, the current chair of the Dublin Select Board. “He was a great guy. You always expect that he’ll be there.”
Joel Huberman of Peterborough got to know Vance in April 2013, when both were new residents at RiverMead.
“John was a very good friend, and I’m said for his loss,” he said.
Huberman called Vance “an outstanding citizen,” who enjoyed talking about all levels of politics, particularly local politics. He also said Vance was always concerned with local education, and convinced him and his wife Anne to become annual donors to Dollars for Scholars.
“John served as a source of education to me and also a source of inspiration,” he said.