Bobby's Story

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Bobby Ray "Bob" Nance, 89, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, passed away Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at St. Luke's Hospital after a short illness.
Friends and family are invited to celebrate his life at 11 a.m. Thursday at Echo Hill Presbyterian Church, 9000 C Ave., Marion, Iowa. The Revs. B.J. Ukena and Nathan Williams will officiate.
Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at Cedar Memorial Funeral Home, Cedar Rapids.
Survivors include his loving wife of 68 years, Verna Ruth (Whittington); son, Danny Ray Nance of Des Moines, Iowa; daughter Nancy Ruth (Robert) Knutson of Porter; and daughter Pamela Sue (Rick) Zehr of Iowa City, Iowa. Grandchildren include Kimberly (Ben) Garcia of Stamford, Connecticut, and their children Graciela and Gabriel; Michael Jesse (Erin) Knutson of San Antonio, Texas, and their children Alexander and Christopher; Erick (Tara) Zehr of Newton, Iowa, and their children Emmett and Garrett; Jordan Zehr of Iowa City; Rachelle Zehr of Iowa City; and Nathan Zehr of Chicago.
"Bob," as he was affectionately known by his many friends and radio and TV listeners, was born in Holdenville Oct. 9, 1927, the son of Jesse Milton Nance and Ethyl Pearl (Buchner) Nance. Bob graduated from Byng High School near Ada in 1945, and East Central College and Oklahoma A&M in 1948. He married Verna Whittington on Aug. 14, 1948, in Ada.
As a farm boy, Bob pursued a career in agriculture journalism as a broadcaster. He was employed by the Oklahoma Extension Service, airing daily radio programs. From there he advanced to station WIOU in Kokomo, Indiana, where he was honored with several farm service recognitions. Radio station WMT in Cedar Rapids subsequently hired Bob as farm editor in 1952. In 1955, he became farm services director of WMT-TV and remained in that position until 1973. Bob and Verna hosted WMT-sponsored farm tours that included Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Upon retirement, he was hired by Vigortone Ag Products as the vice president of advertising and public relations program and oversaw its growth to 30 states nationwide.
Bob was active in the SPEBSQSA, the nationwide barbershop society, for 62 years, including the Harmony Hawks Chorus and the Vigortones quartet, excelling to international recognition. In 1971 the Vigortones joined a USO troupe and entertained servicemen in hospitals throughout the Vietnam Theatre.
Bob also gave much of his time to groups and organizations, having been president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, the Cedar Rapids AG Club, Linn County Extension Council, Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Club and Otter Creek Lions Club. He was recipient of numerous honors from agricultural groups, including Iowa 4-H Clubs, Iowa FFA, National FFA, Star Farmer Award and many livestock and youth groups.
Other prestigious honors included "Hall of Fame" recognitions from WMT Radio and Central States Barbershop Quartet, as well as the Cedar Rapids Professional Baseball Club and the National Farm Broadcaster Hall of Fame. He also served 40 years with the Otter Creek Lions Club.
Bob was an active member of Echo Hill Presbyterian Church in Marion, Iowa, and participated in the Chancel Choir and men's groups.
Among his hobbies were minor league baseball, piloting private aircraft, woodworking, photography, fishing, singing and helping wife Verna parent their loving family. They were blessed with many friends and engaged in social activities throughout their lifetime.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his adoptive mother, Trudy (Boyd) Nance; and his brother Haskell.
Memorials may be directed to the Echo Hill Presbyterian Church Building Fund (PO Box 11334, Cedar Rapids, IA, 52410), or Camp Courageous.
Online condolences may be directed to the family at www.cedarmemorial.com under Obituaries.
Published on February 27, 2017
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