A FIREMAN'S LIFE - Remembering A Servant: Dr. Granville H. Lance


Comrades carry remains to fire truck

EDITOR'S NOTE: There are events and people worth remembering, at least for a while. The life and times of my longtime friend Dr. Granville Lance is still on the list, maybe as a reminder about giving something of ourselves to the communities in which we live, certainly in a time when volunteerism is rapidly dying.

With 21st Century technology, we mostly engage through electronic devices, alone.

Dr. Lance, of all people in my lifetime, engaged his community from firefighting to sports to politics and good deeds, in a way that will not likely be exceeded.

By Bob Weaver 3/20/2002

Hundreds of people crowded into the John H. Taylor Funeral Home in Spencer yesterday, and hundreds more came earlier, to pay their respects to Dr. Granville H. Lance. Lance filled many roles in the Roane County community, including being a local dentist, but he will be mostly remembered as a fireman.

It was a fireman's funeral.

Fire trucks and rescue vehicles cover two city blocks

Hundreds crowd into John H. Taylor Funeral Home

The Lance family expresses appreciation to community

It was his passionate dedication to fire service these past 50 years, a member of the old teenage Spencer Fire Department since he was sixteen.

Rev. David Calvert shared dozens of "Doc Lance stories" with the attendees, while his sons and Mayor Terry Williams shared more. It was, as the trend says, a celebration of his life. The story of a dutiful volunteer, a devoted family man, a civic mover, and a sports enthusiast, mixed with his personal idiosyncrasies, some which were shared during the service. The recollections made everyone laugh in the midst of his loss.

The firemen and emergency service personnel came from several surrounding counties, their fire trucks, rescue vehicles and ambulances lining two city blocks of downtown Spencer.

Pumper truck carries Lance through the town he loved

Bagpipes sound the final goodbye

With salutes and reverence, his comrades carried him in the rain and remembered the thousands of hours he devoted to helping the people of Roane County, while others recalled his many years of training newcomers to fire service.

Spencer Mayor Terry Williams fondly recalled him despite their differences with political parties, and eventually spoke of his altruism. After a lengthy recalling of significant achievements, Williams quietly and emotionally asked "Who will pull the weeds from around the fire hydrants?"

Lance is buried on Cemetery Hill, nearby his dad
Dr. H. O. Lance and his grandfather Dr. G. H. Lance.

Hundreds follow fire trucks to Eventide Cemetery

His words recalled the writing of Calhoun's Jedediah Purdy in his book "For Common Things - Irony, Trust and Commitment in America Today." Purdy called for renewed attention to the common things in which we all have a stake. He says that each of us are responsible for the common good and for upholding the integrity of common things.

Who will answer the fire calls? Who will chain the pumper trucks on snowy nights? Who will pull the weeds from around the fire hydrants?

Purdy's book reminds the reader of what it is we value in society, and of our responsibility to preserve it. "Doc" Lance valued many things beyond his self interests, and to the best of my knowledge never profited by money during his public life.

As the fire truck carried his remains down Main Street, dozens of business people and residents stood by the curbside under their umbrellas, honoring the man.

At the conclusion of the service at Eventide Cemetery, it was a defining moment when young firemen and Roane County High School scholar Chad Perkins knelt before the Lance family and presented the flags. Chad, much like Doc Lance, has enough potential to fly to the moon, but he too wants to be a fireman.

Young Chad Perkins kneels to present flags to Lance Family

As the bagpipes played, I felt comforted by Chad. It is likely he will become responsible for the common good and uphold the integrity of common things.

Life goes on tomorrow, but Doc Lance will surely be remembered as one of Roane County's most dedicated servants.

GRANVILLE LANCE - "He Gave More Than Any Man I Have Known"


By Bob Weaver

Roane County's Dr. Granville Lance has died at his home Friday night at the age of 71. The retired Spencer dentist and former long-time Fire Chief of the Spencer-Roane Volunteer Fire Department gave more to his community than any man I have known.

He was a "buzz saw of activity" and he gave his energy to Roane County, day and night. He loved fire fighting and Emergency Medical Services and became one of the regions excellent teachers in fire fighting.

A former Mayor of Spencer, he was involved in hundreds of community projects over the years.

He answered thousands of fire, rescue and medical calls, usually between his practice as a dentist.

He was my long-time friend since the first week I lived in Spencer in 1961, and what adventurous tales we could tell. I could never keep up with him.

He was sometimes viewed as a contentious man, always telling you exactly where he stood.

Last night Granville slowed down for the first time, to a deserved rest. I am hopeful the more recent generations of Roane Countians will be aware of his body of work spanning over 50 years.