By Sherrie Norris
Hundreds of mourners from all walks of life filled First Baptist Church of Crossnore on Sunday afternoon, with a long line stretching around the building for nearly three hours before the funeral service began. It was a fitting tribute to the late Edward Truitt “Tudor” Vance, who not only was born and raised in Crossnore, but who also served as its mayor since 2001. Vance died after a brief illness in the early morning hours of October 11.
Family members, friends, business associates, fellow golfers and others came from miles around to pay their respects to a man who wore many hats. The flag-draped coffin told a story in itself of an American hero who served his country, but also that of an everyday hero to his wife, children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and others who knew him intimately.
Many memories were shared in the lengthy line on Sunday, as were those also spoken during his celebration of life service, memories of a man who never wavered from standing up for his beliefs, even when he might have stood alone; at one time he would have done just that, had not a young grandson risen to his side during a church vote, offering the only other “nay” in the congregation.
Vance was remembered for his integrity, and yes, even as an “honest politician” and “a pretty good golfer,” a man who had vision and foresight, a man who was raised rather poor in a large family, but grew up with everything that really mattered in life. A man who wanted the best for his family, his community and surrounding areas — and worked hard to make it happen.
Vance was described as a “unique” character, a sharp shooter at the pool table, and an even sharper dresser, always presenting his best side in the public eye. He was an avid golfer who enjoyed spending his spare time on the golf course. He was also an accomplished dancer and always had dance partners lined up waiting “their turn” on every occasion.
Vance was a man who loved others, wholeheartedly, and despite being rather small in stature, was large as life to those who knew him best. And he loved life and loved those in his life, always meeting each with a smile and a warm, welcoming embrace. Most of all, his family attested, he loved the Lord.
Vance’s death came just a few short months after a cancer diagnosis, leaving his family and friends stunned by his rapid decline. Soon after his diagnosis, he was honored with a birthday party in the town of Crossnore, marking his 85th year of life, an event that filled the main street with well-wishers from all around. At that time, he received “the best birthday gift ever,” he described — the distinct honor of having the town hall renamed as the Edward “Tooter” Vance Meeting House, something that brought tears to his eyes each time it was later mentioned.
Two years earlier, on Sept. 9, 2016, during the annual awards banquet of the High Country Council of Governments at Linville Ridge Country Club, Vance was honored as Outstanding Local Elected Official of the Year, chosen by managers, administrators and elected officials from the seven-county district served by the COG. Vance was described during that presentation as having a reputation for bringing groups together for the town’s benefit, as well as his energy and ability to motivate others.
“I like to see government employees and elected officials get along,” Vance said. “I’ve found that a word of encouragement or kindness doesn’t hurt.”
At that time, Vance was recognized for spearheading a drive to accumulate resources to build a new sewage treatment plant for the town, and also supervised the acquisition of a site and the building of a new well.
Vance was the son of the late Charles and Irene Vance, grandson of the late Melvin and Emma Aldridge Vance (from whom he inherited his love for music, dancing and community service, as his grandfather was a post master and merchant), and nephew to one of Crossnore’s first mayors, Jeter Vance. He was preceded in death by six brothers and two sisters. He was an active member of First Baptist Church, Crossnore, where he had served as both a deacon and Sunday school teacher. He earlier served in the US Air Force during the Korean Conflict, and served in the late 70s as an Avery County Commissioner. He spent many years as a telephone cable splicer, and with his wife, owned and operated a successful steakhouse in Newland. At the time of his death, Vance was on the executive board of the Region D Council of Governments.
Left to cherish memories are his loving wife of 59 years, Reeca Woods Vance of Crossnore; daughter, Cami Buchanan and husband Gary “Monk” of Crossnore; son, Linc Vance and wife Angie of Burnsville; son, Todd Vance and wife Lou Ann of Dallas, Texas; his granddaughter, Tasha Smith and husband Cody of Crossnore, grandson Shea Buchanan and wife Juliana of Elk Park; his granddaughter Lexi Vance and grandson Aidan Vance of Burnsville; his nephew, who was more like a brother, Johnny Snyder, and wife Nancy of Bakersville, and his great grandsons, Jase Smith and Reid Buchanan. A number of nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.
The care of Vance and his family were entrusted to Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home of Newland, with services conducted by the Revs. Phil Murdock and Harold Bennet, and special music by Matt and Laura Lewis.
Vance was laid to rest near other family members in the Johnson Family Cemetery in the Hughes Community near Crossnore.
The family requests that memorials be made to Medi-Home Hospice, PO Box 1357 Newland, NC 28657.