Kevin Lee Nance was born Dec. 6, 1953, the sixth of eight children.
His early years were spent in his birthplace of Chester, Penn., where he attended the local schools and participated in music and athletics. After graduating from Chester High School in 1971, Nance moved to Arizona where he worked as the associate physical director at the YMCA in downtown Phoenix. He later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Excelsior College in New York.
In 1983, he joined Tanner Chapel AME Church and married his loving wife, Patricia Lister. From this union came Karlton Lavelle and Kalei Ana, both of whom are alumni of Desert Vista High School. Nance and his family have been Ahwatukee Foothills residents for more than 12 years.
Nance felt a call to duty and enlisted in the Army National Guard where he gave dedicated service for 20 years. He has been awarded the Army Meritorious Volunteer Service Award, the H.B. Daniels Community Service Award, the National Defense Medal and the U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal. For the past seven years, he has served as the Army instructor at Hopi Junior Senior High School in Keams Canyon, Ariz. He used his expertise to not only found the JROTC program but also established the annual Phoenix Suns and JROTC night and trained the school's first Color Guard, which has posted the colors in both Phoenix and Hawaii. Nance also flourished in additional roles at the school, including working as instructor for the Raiders Physical Fitness Teams and coach for the school's first swimming and rifle teams.
In stride with his military service, Nance was equally devoted to serving his surrounding community. He generously gave of his time and talents to the Boy Scouts of America through numerous positions and founded Troop 208 at Tanner Chapel. He was an active member of several organizations, including Tanner's Male Chorus and Jubilee Choir, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, 100 Black Men of America, Inc. and he even recorded with the Sun Valley Revue, a local gospel ensemble. He embraced being a Valley Big Brother, with his "little brother" becoming an adopted member of the family. Nance also had fond memories of coaching for the Arizona Cheetahs Track Club and other teams while supporting his children's athletic endeavors.
Nance was predeceased by his sister, Ophelia Nance. He is survived by his devoted and loving wife of 27 years, Patricia; his son, Karlton Lavelle; his daughter, Kalei Ana; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Nance; his mother-in-law, Anna Lee Lister; and Valley "Little Brother" Danny Augustin. His surviving sisters include Katie D. Nance McKenzie, Lucretia Nance Jones, Marian Nance and Helen Marie Myers. His surviving brothers include Robert (Tammy) and Rufus Curtis (Sharon). His surviving nieces and nephews include Sherri, Christopher, Leilani, Jackie, Paula, Robert Devine, Trinity, Tanner, Destiny, Sonya, Curtis Kemal, Anush, Steven, J. Ross, A.J., Alexa, Amari and one goddaughter, Simone. He leaves behind a host of cousins, in-laws, church family and friends to cherish his legacy for years to come.
A Wake will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, at Greater Bethel AME Church, 7040 S. 40th St., Phoenix. Funeral services will be from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Sept. 27, at the same location, followed by burial at 1 p.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix.