Obituary Notices and Memorials


HANCE, JW Our dad was born August 27, 1921 on his parents' cotton farm northwest of Coolidge, Texas and passed away peacefully in Lancaster, Calif. on January 21, 2016. JW as he was known (because of his initial name) was one of his father's hardest working cotton pickers, as the family's survival demanded no less. Reared on a sharecropping farm, JW worked his way through early life to become valedictorian of his high school] class upon graduating in 1939. With a small scholarship and a $50.00 bank loan, he enrolled at Texas A&M. There, JW majored in engineering, but was also very interested in agriculture. He helped support himself through school by replacing broken window panes on campus, work which was sometimes provided by sympathetic classmates. He then went on to and graduated from Officer Cadet Training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, but his military career was cut short due to medical issues. He was honorably discharged in 1943 and faced a tough decision. Should he hire on as an aircraft engineer at $22.00 per week or a county agricultural field agent at $17.00 per week. Fortunately, he opted for a career in engineering. JW was hired by North American Engineering in Dallas, Texas on June 1, 1943 and later transferred to North American's plant in Los Angeles where he met his future wife, Linda Lou Westbrook. After marrying on December 8, 1945, JW and Linda bought a home in Redondo Beach, Calif. and several years later, they moved to Van Nuys, Calif. Now with four children, and desiring a larger, nicer home they sold the Van Nuys home and had a home built in Encino Estates, Calif. There, we lived amongst a number of movie stars, which with the security issues of today, would not have been possible. This, too, was a time when it wasn't unusual to see deer in the backyard occasionally. All of this came to an end in 1962 when JW accepted a job transfer to Palmdale, Calif. with North American Rockwell and then on to Edwards for the XB 70 project. After arriving in the Antelope Valley, JW and Linda (mom and dad) had a home built in Lancaster, where they resided for the rest of their lives. After Edwards, JW eventually transferred and commuted to the Rockwell Space Division in Downney, CA. There, he worked on the Apollo and then Space Shuttle programs until retirement in 1982. JW's interests included reading, photography, team pistol shooting, hunting, four wheeling, working in his shop, tractoring, gardening, nut and fruit trees, square dancing and recalling and telling his lifes stories. Because of the demand of providing for a family, JW regretted not furthering his education. Success as with many things in life is relative. Starting out life as an impoverished farm boy, working sun up 'til sun down, drinking from a small field reservoir with cattle often knee deep in the water on the other side, it was a miracle that JW even survived his childhood and then to go on and become an aerospace engineer was quite an achievement. He appreciated his time after retirement and lived on to the age of 94+ years. JW was preceded in death by our mother Linda Lou, his devoted wife of 57 years, and grandson Christopher Hance. He is survived by his daughters Sheila (Gregory), Paula Williams, sons John (Sandy) and Greg (Pat) along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He will be greatly missed. Internment will be private on a later date.

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