Ben Leigh Vance


Ben Leigh Vance died Sept. 23, 2005. He was born Dec. 3, 1927, in Plumtree, N.C. He was a teenager when his mother signed a waiver so he could join the Navy (to help support his family) during World War II. He served as a gunner on a Liberty Ship in the Naval Armed Guard in North Africa, Italy, and England. When the war in Europe was over, he was sent to the Philippines for the duration of the war. He received a medical discharge because of the disease he contracted in the mid-Atlantic and spent the next year and a half in the Naval Hospital in Corona, Calif.

He returned to North Carolina to continue high school, but learned that he was not healed and his one chance for survival was to travel to the Veteran's Administration hospital in Tucson. It was while there that he met his wife of 54 years, Gertrude (Trudy). They were married in Phoenix in 1951. They lived in Tucson while Mr. Vance attended the University of Arizona to pursue a career in journalism. He worked on the Buckeye News. The family moved to Phoenix, where he attended Arizona State University and drove the state bookmobile. In 1959 he was employed as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, where he wrote many articles, including the obit column, until his retirement in 1983. He was active in St. Theresa's parish in Phoenix during that time.

In 1988, Mr. and Mrs. Vance built a home in the Payson area, where they remained until his death. Throughout his life, he was an avid sportsman, fisherman and hunter who enjoyed golf, his grandchildren and traveling to Alaska every summer for 22 years to spend time with family there. He was a member of St. Philip's Catholic Church, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Payson Golf Cub, Holy Name Society, Newspaper Guild, Associated Press, and was an Archaeology Site Steward in Payson.

He is survived by his wife, Gertrude; brothers, Jack Vance of Tempe, and Dan Vance of Crossnore, N.C.; sister, Elizabeth Hoilman of Marion, N.C.; daughters, Maureen Parker of Anchorage, Alaska; Virginia Roseberry of Manassas, Va.; Theresa Vance of Payson; and Rita Geller of Sterling, Alaska; four grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and their children in North Carolina and California.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2005, at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 511 South St. Phillips St., Payson, preceded by a rosary at 9:30. The interment will be at Mountain Meadows Memorial Park in Payson on Wednesday.

Donations may be made to St. Vincent DePaul Society.

Arrangements handled by Messinger Payson Funeral Home.

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