Remembering Jim Vance: 1942-2017

Jim Vance, the man who joined the Washington, D.C. NBC affiliate the same year in which I was born, died Saturday after a short battle with cancer.

I never had the chance to meet anchorman Jim Vance, but I know a few people who did.

A friend of mine who works there posted a photo of himself with Vance and called working with him an honor. A former colleague said every time he spoke with Vance, Vance made him laugh.

Viewers and colleagues have been reacting to Vance’s death Saturday morning. Back in May, he announced to viewers who raised concerns about some recent absences on the anchor desk that he was fighting cancer:

“A couple of weeks ago, doctors gave me some news. It’s the kind of news nobody wants to hear: they said I have cancer and need treatment.”

Vance said he not only planned to continue working as much as he could around cancer treatments but insisted on doing so.

On Saturday morning, the general manager of the station announced via its website that Vance had passed away:

For more than 45 years, Jim Vance was not only the soul of NBC4 but of the entire Washington area. His smooth voice, brilliant mind and unforgettable laugh leaves each of us with a tremendous void.

“Vance always celebrated the good and acknowledged the parts of life that didn’t go so well. That made him a great man.

“To everyone in the Washington area who is heartbroken today, please know we grieve right along with you.

“Jim loved his job, his family and Washington with all his heart, and we will all cherish the legacy he has left us forever.”

Vance joined the team at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., in 1969 and had been an anchor there since 1972. It should go without saying that he is the District’s longest-serving anchor.

But any anchor, male or female, who can stay on the job for 45 years deserves a great deal of respect in this day and age. But there’s more: The Washington Post reported once that the 11pm newscasts he anchored with co-anchor Doreen Gentzler regularly attracted more viewers than the prime-time programs on the three major cable networks combined.

That’s an accomplishment few anchors anywhere can ever claim.

The most memorable moment I ever saw with Vance involved a now-famous moment as he read the story about a fashion show. A model wearing unusual footwear apparently couldn’t quite handle the ultra-high heels. Vance and his colleague, then-sports anchor George Michael, found this particularly amusing and had uproarious laughter during replays of the woman’s mishaps:

Back in 2014 during an appearance on The Rock Newman Show at Howard University, Vance was asked what he wanted on his tombstone. He immediately had an answer:

“I want on my tombstone a few words…five words: ‘It was a helluva party.’”

RIP, Jim Vance.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.