It was a love story born of the turmoil of World War II.

The story of Donald and Jean Vance is one of love for each other, their family, their country and Aledo. The couple’s first child, Jennifer Jean Vance, was born in Moline on Oct. 31, 1945. Now Jennifer Boaz, she and her husband recently headed back to Aledo from their home in
Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Her brother, Jeff, made  the trip from Charlotte, N.C. They returned for the burial of their mother and father in Aledo, as well as the donation of their father ’s Army uniform to the Essley Noble Museum.

In a lengthy letter to his children completed May 11, 2004, when he was 80, Donald Vance told his story.  He talked about hearing the news on the radio of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor when he,  his then wife-to-be Jean Clancey and two other couples were in Burlington, Iowa. Just more than a week
later, Dec. 15, 1941,  Donald turned 18.

“Us boys looked at each other and said when we get to be 18 years of age, we’ll have to sign up for the Draft,” he wrote of one of their reactions upon hearing the news of the attack.

He and Jean married on Oct. 18, 1942, in Davenport, in order to have some time together before he was drafted. His country called May 13, 1943.

In his letter, Donald wrote of riding the bus from Aledo to Fort Sheridan, Ill., with other draftees. After being given physicals, shots, clothes and a bunk to sleep in, “the next day we were interviewed about our schooling and what we would like to do. I stated I would like to be in the Army Air Corp and be an airplane mechanic. As luck would have it, the Army wanted airplane mechanics.”

Jennifer, in a phone interview from near Cape Girardeau, Mo.,  said her father never lost his love of airplanes. After the war,  hr began flying small planes.

“Dad was a pilot,” she said. “He flew a small Piper Cub,  I guess, small planes out of Aledo airport. He was not a pilot in the war, but he loved airplanes.”

She moved away when she was 19. Her memories of Aledo include going to the Mississippi River for boating, which she enjoyed,  and fishing, not so much.

Her father and mother lived in Aledo for many more years. Donald went to work with his father, his brothers, Bob and Paul, operating Ed Vance and Sons.

“We stayed in business for over 40 years,” Donald wrote.

The couple moved to Georgia in 1981 when they retired, then to Texas when Donald was 80. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2012. Jean passed away March 20, 2013, with Donald following Dec. 31, 2014.

“They were high school sweethearts,” Jennifer said of her parents long, loving marriage.

As for the donation of her father's Army uniform to the local museum, Jennifer said she and Jeff talked it over and decided the idea was a better one than having it sitting in a box in a closet.

“People will be able to enjoy it,” she said. “It’s a memorial to my mom, too. She was the family historian.”

Jean saved the entire uniform and her husband’s medals,  Jennifer said.

“What he did was very important,” she said of her father.

Donald and Jean always wanted to be buried in Aledo and that took place earlier in the day on Aug. 28.

“The rain held off,” Jeff Vance,  speaking to a reporter at the museum, said of the morning at the cemetery. The VFW came out and did a nice 21-gun salute.”

The couple bought the plot in Aledo in the 1950’s,  Jennifer said.

After the service, a large group of relatives went to the museum.

“The people that are here are siblings of Dad’s brothers and sisters,” she said.

Jennifer has fond memories of Aledo.  She said both she and Jeff come back for class reunions.

“It’s enjoyable to go back to Aledo,” Jennifer said. “Many things have changed.”

What never changed was the love of family and for each other that Donald and Jean shared. That was what was celebrated that late August day in Aledo.