Allen Irving Vance ’53

Allen Irving Vance, age 91, passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 2 at Oakmont at Gordon Park Bristol, VA. A devout Christian who loved serving others, he was a kind, compassionate, loving husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend. Allen was born in Bristol, Tennessee, a graduate of Tennessee High School, class of 1949 and served as the senior class president. He was a sports enthusiast, earned the rank of Eagle Scout and was a lifelong tennis player. He graduated from Davidson College in 1953, where he played on the basketball and baseball teams, was a member of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity and the Interfraternity Council. Upon graduation, he served as a rifle platoon leader in the United States Army, serving his last year of active duty in Salzburg, Austria. After his service duty discharge, he attended the Graduate Business School at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he met his beloved wife, Retta Jelks.
Allen spent his career in banking, working primarily for Tri-City Bank in Bristol. He enjoyed serving as an elder and deacon of Central Presbyterian Church, Bristol, VA, the church where his grandparents were charter members in 1875. Allen served on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce of Bristol, BTES, and King University Advisory Board. He was an active member of the Lions Club and Rotary Club of Bristol VA/TN and founded the Kappa Alpha Alumni Chapter of the Tri-Cities.
In 1980, Allen and Retta moved to Savannah, GA, Retta’s hometown for 25 years before returning back to retire in Bristol. While in Savannah, Allen worked in banking and later worked in development for the YMCA, served as a deacon and elder of First Presbyterian Church and later became a member of Christ Episcopal Church. He was a founding member and President of the Savannah Kappa Alpha Alumni and received The Kappa Alpha Knight Commander Award, the highest honor on a national level. Allen was a board member of the American Red Cross, an active member of the Southside Rotary Club and was recognized as a Will Watt Fellow and a Paul Harris Fellow.
Allen was preceded in death by his brothers Dr. Graham Vance (Martha) of West Plains, Mo, Dr. Fred Vance, Jr. (Ann) of Bristol, TN and brother-in-law Freeman Jelks, Jr. of Savannah, GA. He is survived by his wife, Retta Jelks Vance of 65 years, their three daughters, Julie Brown (Bill) of Kingsport, TN, Retta Poynter (Jay) of Charlotte, NC and Helen Scott (Bob) of Bristol, TN. He is also survived by four grandchildren Molly Brown of Kingsport, TN, Sam Scott of Knoxville, TN, Brian Scott of Bristol, TN and Lauren Poynter of Lynchburg, VA, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Visitation will be on Saturday, October 8 in Central Hall of Central Presbyterian Church Bristol, VA from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. followed by a memorial service in the sanctuary at 2:00 p.m. Allen will be laid to rest at Shelby Hills Cemetery Bristol, TN following the service.
The family would like to thank the staff of Oakmont, Elite Hospice and his caregivers Nancy, Laura, Jessica and Angie for their loving and compassionate care.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Central Presbyterian Church 331 Euclid Ave Bristol, VA 24201 or Healing Hands Health Center 245 Midway Medical Park Bristol, TN 37620.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at
Akard Funeral Home, (423) 989-4800 is honored to be serving the Vance family.