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Joseph G. Vance Sr., 68

September 30, 2009

SEPT. 9, 1941-SEPT. 14, 2009

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - Joseph Gilleece (Skip) Vance Sr., 68, of Hollywood, Fla., died at his home on Sept. 14, 2009.

Born Sept. 9, 1941, in Hagerstown, Md., he was the son of the late Ida Mildred (Clark) and Joseph Hager Vance Jr.

Skip grew up in Hagerstown, attending the public schools of Washington County.

Both of his parents were employed by the Washington County Board of Education. His father, Joseph H. Vance, served the county school system as supervisior of finances and as supervisor of transporation for many years. His mother, Mildred C. Vance, taught in nine county schools and taught sixth-grade science via the Ford Foundation-funded county closed-circuit television project.

Skip was a talented athlete. As a right-handed hurler, he came up through the Little League, PONY League and prep ranks as a perennial all-star. Although baseball was always close to his heart, he was equally at home on the football field and the basketball court.

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As a former North Hagerstown High three letterman, Skip was a pass-minded quarterback on the football field, a high-scoring forward on the basketball court and a strong-armed, right-handed pitcher on the mound.

After graduating from North High in 1959, he attended Massanutten Military Academy, where he was named "Outstanding Athlete of the Year."

In June 1960, he accepted an athletic scholarship to Virginia Tech at Blacksburg, initially playing football. When the coaches encouraged him to pick up a baseball and return to the diamond, the converted footballer was tagged "ace of the staff" for his pitching won-lost record and his earned run average.

Skip was awarded a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and after graduation served in the Vietnam War as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

After being discharged from the military, he returned to Maryland, but after an initial visit to sunny Florida, decided to take up permanent residence there.

As a licensed engineer in Dade County, Fla., he designed and created fire sprinkler systems for commercial buildings. He was known as a self-starter and in the late 1980s was recognized as a visionary pioneer in his field. He readily understood that computers could be programmed to facilitate complex tasks, and went about developing his own program for designing and creating advanced fire-suppression systems.

Skip was employed by American Fire Sprinkler System Corp. for almost a decade.

Surviving him are his first two children, Joseph Gilleece Vance Jr. and Carrie Anne Vance, both of Hollywood, Fla.; two sisters, Jo Ann Altfather of Bowie, Md., and Mary Kathryn Sours of Gaithersburg, Md.; nieces; and nephews.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Mandy Lynn Vance.

Services will be held at the Fred Hunter Funeral Home, Hollywood, Fla., on Friday, Oct. 2, at 11 a.m. with a military burial in the National Veterans Cemetery, Lake Worth, Fla. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in support of this nation's veterans.

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