Dennis Vance of Independence, IA, died at home Tuesday, October 20th from complications of cancer. While battling his illness, he continued to live life to its fullest, maintaining his positive attitude and sense of humor.
Born in Princeton, MN in 1940 to Thomas and Dorothy (Allison) Vance, Denny graduated from Princeton High School. He went on to get Bachelor Degrees in Music and Art Education from St. Cloud State University and a Master of Music Education Degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
From age 14, Denny worked as a “gigging” musician, playing trumpet in numerous ensembles from polka bands to jazz bands to symphonic orchestras. He worked for a year as a commercial artist and was a musician and host for a regional, weekly television show for 13 years. He started his teaching career in Rake, IA before moving to Cedar Falls, where he was a band director for 30 years with the Waterloo schools retiring in 1997. A self-described “jack-of-all arts,” he was also very active with the Old Creamery Theater in Garrison, IA and the Waterloo Community Playhouse as actor, director, and designer for 34 years. While living in Cedar Falls, Denny met his wife, Kara Readshaw. A gifted craftsman, he built their house and they built their home on the Wapsipinicon River and golf course in Independence, IA where they’ve lived since 1994. They married in 1997 at Monet’s Water Lily Garden in Giverny, France.
Upon retirement, he was free to pursue his life-long interest in creating art, concentrating primarily on wood sculpting and drawing. His distinctive work can be found in and around many homes in the area and across the country. A life-long learner and a teacher, Denny loved sharing his knowledge and passion for the arts as a docent at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and through his promotion of the arts in Independence, including as a founding member of LACES, Buchanan County Arts, and Arts on Chatham.
Denny and Kara often opened their home to friends entertaining them with good food and wine, lots of laughter, and spirited conversation. He was an avid golfer and New York Yankees fan, a voracious reader, and was always well-versed on current events. He especially loved to travel, experiencing other cultures through their food and art.
Denny touched many lives. His friends and family knew him as extraordinarily generous, hard-working, intelligent, witty, creative, and a master storyteller. To know “DV” was to love him, and he will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Kevin; and his sister, Deb. He is survived by his wife; his brother, Mike (Sue) of Surprise, AZ; and nieces and nephews.
Given the current circumstances of limited gatherings, a celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Denny and Kara would like to thank all of his doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for their loving care and support.
A Dennis Vance Memorial has been established ℅ Kara Vance. Donations will be distributed toward his passions at a later date. On line condolences may be left at www.White-MtHope.com. White Funeral Home of Independence is in charge of arrangements.