Harold Van Ness Lance was born in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania on March 15, 1944 to Joseph and Mabel Lance, deceased. Harold grew up in Mount Airy, PA and graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School. He sang in the glee club with a beautifully gifted tenor voice and excelled in track and field. His track talents helped him earn a four year scholarship to La Salle College in Philadelphia, PA (1962 -1966) where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and accounting. While in college he was a member of ROTC and continued his love for music by singing in the glee club and with the original music group, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Harold thought he was destined for stardom, but his father was determined for his son to finish college forcing Harold to withdraw from the Blue Notes.
He became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated, Delta Eta Chapter at Temple University. On May 28, 1966, a week before graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Freddie Mae Willis. The two met on Harold’s paper route when he was 16-years-old. They remained married for 52 years. Harold graduated from college with honors as a distinguished military student and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. Post graduation, he competed in the triple jump during the 1967 Pan Am Games held in Winnipeg, Canada.
As newlyweds, Harold and Mae moved to Parsberg, Germany where their first child, Harold VN Lance II, was born. After two years in Germany, Harold received military orders for Vietnam where he spent 18 months as an Airborne Ranger in an artillery unit. While serving in Vietnam, his second child, Adrienne, was born in Philadelphia, PA. Upon leaving Vietnam he was decorated with a Purple Heart.
After Vietnam, Harold was stationed in Lawton, Oklahoma where his third child, Derrick, was born. The family later moved to Kingsville, TX where Harold taught ROTC at Texas A & I University, now Texas A & M. While teaching, he earned his MBA, founded the Eta Tau chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated and became a member of the Kingsville Jaycees. Harold remained devoted to his fraternity as a lifetime member and service. He left the army as a Major to pursue a career in sales and marketing at Container Corporation of America in Arlington, TX where his fourth child, Jonathan, was born. An active father and athlete, Harold coached his children’s football, baseball, track and soccer teams and also played in a men’s soccer league.
In 1979, he was recruited by Minneapolis philanthropist, Percy Ross, as the CEO of one of his companies, BF Nelson Company. The job moved his family from Arlington, Texas to Plymouth, Minnesota where his fifth child, Natisha, was born. He became an entrepreneur launching First IPD, a consulting company. In Minnesota, Harold affectionately became known as “Hal” amongst friends. He joined Holy Name of Jesus Church and sang in the Adult Choir until he had a debilitating stroke at the age of 40. After a long road of rehabilitation, Hal continued to work and provided jobs to other stroke survivors. He and Mae became ambassadors and speakers for the American Heart and Stroke Association in addition to The Courage Center. Although the stroke constricted his mobility and vision, it never diminished his internal joy, zest for life and commitment to faith – attending mass every morning and serving as an active member of Cursillo.
He is survived by his wife, Mae; children – Harold (Angela) Lance II, Adrienne Lance Lucas, Derrick Lance, Jonathan Lance and Natisha Lance; sister - Donnella Perry of Philadelphia, PA; and eight grandchildren – Alexis Lance, Keno Lucas II, Aliyah Lance, Isabella Lance, Anthony Lance, Trey Lance, Alessandra Lance and Michael Lance.
Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday, Jan. 10 at 10:00am with visitation at 9am, The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Medina. Burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
The Lance Family Foundation