John F. Vance, Jr.

November 23, 1927 ~ January 28, 2024 (age 96) 96 Years Old

John F. Vance, Jr. Obituary

Born in New York City November 27, 1927, John Frazier Vance Jr, died at RiverMead, Peterborough NH, on January 28, 2024. His parents were John Frazier Vance, the production manager for Time and Fortune Magazines and publisher of Modern Age Books, and Marjorie Donaldson Vance, an author of children’s books, who wrote under the name of Cyra Temple Horne.

He is survived by his wife of forty-five years, Judith Turner Sullivan Vance and the children and grandchildren of their blended family; Kathrine Vance, Kathleen Sullivan, Holly Vance McKellar, and grandsons Jason Vance, Austin Kridler, Ryan Kridler, John Frazier Vance IV, and Robert McKellar. Margorie Hollenweger Vance, John’s first wife and mother of his three children, died in 1989. Their son, John Frazier Vance III died in 2011.

John’s primary schooling was at the Litchfield and the Harvey boarding schools in Connecticut. After his father’s death in 1937, he attended public school until his mother remarried in 1941 and the family moved to Argentina. There he completed his secondary (and bilingual) studies the Colegio Ward to American High School in Buenos Aires.

In 1945, he returned to the United States for Cornell University, graduating with the Class of 1949. Having just begun a job with the McGraw-Hill Book Company at the start of the Korean War, he joined the Air Force, and was sent to Korea. He flew photo reconnaissance night missions over China in an unarmed aircraft his entire tour of duty and for that, was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross. Until he was no longer able to do so, he marched in every Veterans’ parade Peterborough offered; he was very proud of his service.

Returning to McGraw-Hill, he resumed his position as a College Traveler. He spent twenty-four years there until 1979, by which time he was Executive Vice President of the Book Company, responsible for seven trade, higher education, and professional publishing divisions as well as the chair of two subsidiary companies. He also served as head of the school division of the Association of American Publishers. After McGraw-Hill, he joined the Xerox Publishing Group as Vice President and General Manager with overall responsibility for domestic and international operations of AutEx Systems, University Microfilms and R.R. Bowker. From there, he moved to Hearst Books as Vice President and General Manager, leaving that position in 1983 when he and his wife began their own publishing company with The Complete & Easy Guide to Social Security & Medicare. Distributed by Dell Publishing and The Reader’s Digest, the success of its first (and subsequent nine yearly editions) began a retreat from city life into ever deepening rustication.

Building a house in Greenwich, Connecticut and a string of consulting assignments and Board appointments proved inadequate outlets for John’s prodigious energy. He soon bought Research Books Inc., a tiny scientific and technical book distribution business located in Guilford, Connecticut. After moving there and building another house, he began transforming RBI into a full-service provider of books and research materials to corporate research libraries from coast to coast and finally into Europe. Research Books afforded the opportunity to indulge in the only hobby (if moving house is not counted) John ever allowed himself; flying a small aircraft, a passion he and his wife, also a pilot, shared. Personal air delivery service for urgently needed reference material was enjoyed by clients and pilots alike. And throughout their marriage, the Vance’s traveled extensively on business and for pleasure, alone and with others, self-propelled and otherwise.

Having so happily built his own business, entirely to his vision and standards, John was surprised to find himself willing to sell it when an enthusiastic buyer appeared late in 1991. The creep to deeper country took up again. Free of a business to manage, and in acknowledgement of his advancing age, apparent to none but himself, he began his last formal career in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Two of the four children had graduated from Franklin Pierce, so the Monadnock area was well visited by 1990. Both Holly and JV had settled there and began families. Once moved (into the first of five serial houses) he embarked on a multitude of local and regional civic and charitable projects. An initiative to bring broadband internet access to the region, and forging links between high schools and community colleges for workforce development were two early ones. Creating a framework for the economic and esthetic renewal of Peterborough with the Downtown 2000 initiative and establishing a scholarship foundation for especially needy high school graduates; the ConVal Community Scholarship Foundation with ConVal Community Dollars for Scholars, were the two most impactful.

To the end of his life, he retained his vigorous interest in political affairs, reading the New York Times daily and watching C-Span. He wrote his last of nearly a hundred Letter to the Editor for the Ledger Transcript only a few months prior to his death. More than his corporate career, the accomplishments of his long life in which he took the most pride were the establishment of the Scholarship Foundation and Downtown 2000. The hundreds of young people who have benefited, and will continue to, from higher education, and the vitality and continually unfolding beauty of downtown Peterborough are our blessings and John’s lasting legacies. His many memberships and other favored charities included the Parmelee Society of Monadnock Community Hospital, Friends of The Peterborough Library, and the Parish of All Saints Peterborough, Planned Parenthood, many food banks, Public radio and television, UNICEF, and numberless political candidates (fewer office holders).

The funeral service will be at All Saints, Peterborough, February 12 at 1 PM.  Arrangements are by the Jellison Funeral Home, Peterborough. A reception will follow at Rivermead Village, 50 Timberpond Drive. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Conval Community Dollars for Scholars or CVCSF in John’s memory (PO Box 372, Peterborough, NH 03458;

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Funeral Service
February 12, 2024

1:00 PM
All Saints Episcopal Church (Peterborough)
51 Concord Street
Peterborough, NH 03458


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