Message from the editor: A tribute to my grandfather

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The Ponte Vedra Recorder lost one of its most avid readers and vital sources earlier this month: my grandfather, John Robert (Bob) Mance.

The larger than life, almost mythical man I knew as “GrandBob” died on Nov. 10. He was a Ponte Vedra resident since 1987, living on Solana Road until 2005, when he and my grandmother, Mary Mance, moved to Vicar’s Landing. As my family writes in his obituary, which is included below, Bob Mance was “a true life force whose strength of character, modesty, intellect, honesty, integrity, loyalty and family protectiveness, will forever be carried forth by all the people he touched in his vibrant and full life.”

My grandfather loved this golf-centric, beach town, and the people who it comprises so much that he frequently called me over the past year with story ideas for the Recorder.

“Do you know this about THE PLAYERS Championship,” he would ask. “Are you aware of this upcoming community meeting? You should do a story on this person.”

Not too often is a journalist like me lucky enough to receive tips from his grandfather. I treasured those calls, and will remember them for the rest of my life.

Bob Mance was a life-long supporter of journalism and consumer of news. For as long as I knew him, he started each and every day reading the Wall Street Journal and Florida Times-Union, and recently the Ponte Vedra Recorder on a weekly basis. Over the years, our family frequently received newspaper clips from him on topics that were relevant to our lives, which he consistently took interest in, using journalism as a way to find common ground with those he loved.

My grandfather also loved sports, a passion that I’ve proudly shared with him throughout my life. He especially loved watching the PGA Tour and the Jaguars. Now, each time I drive to TPC Clubhouse or EverBank Field, I think of him and reflect on how special it is that I now have the opportunity to cover the sports and the teams he most enjoyed.

Two days after his passing, I thought it was only fitting that the Jaguars beat the Los Angeles Chargers in dramatic, overtime fashion. My girlfriend Hannah said he now has the “best seat in the house.” I couldn’t agree more and like to think he’s rooting for the Jaguars from that seat, as the team sits atop the AFC South and vies for a home playoff game.

I saw my grandfather for the last time about two weeks before that Jaguars overtime thriller. When I entered his room, he was in a deep, deep sleep. Attempting not to wake him, I briefly and quietly sat next to his bed, squeezed his hand and told him I loved him. I was about to walk out the door when I remembered something important a tradition I carried out each time I visited.

I walked back to his bedside and dropped off the most recent edition of the Recorder, which I’m confident he’s reading comfortably and peacefully today. 

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John Robert (Bob) Mance of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, left our world, his beloved Mary, wife of 65 years, and his loving family on Nov. 10, 2017. Bob Mance, born on April 29, 1928, was a true life force whose strength of character, modesty, intellect, honesty, integrity, loyalty and family protectiveness, will forever be carried forth by all the people that he touched in his vibrant and full life. Bob Mance was the son of John Christopher Mance, a Latvian immigrant and founder of Mance Corporation, New York City Mechanical Contractors, and his mother, Virginia Frances Mance, who Bob helped into her next life at the rich age of 99.

1st Lt. John Robert Mance was honorably discharged from the United States Army shortly after he married Mary Elizabeth Deckers at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in 1952. The family grew in Mount Kisco, Dobbs Ferry, Ossining and finally Chappaqua, New York. Though always putting family first, Bob carried on the Mance family business until 1986. Bob and Mary Mance were members of Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, for over 40 years. Retirement to Ponte Vedra Beach in 1987 capped off this marvelous journey, which included 25 years for Bob and Mary as members of the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. Bob did enjoy his golf. In 2005, Bob and Mary became residents of the Vicar’s Landing retirement community, where Mary still proudly resides today.

Bob was predeceased by his younger brother David and his youngest son Russell, who were both gone too soon. Surviving him are the love of his life Mary; daughter Kimberly Blauvelt (Scott) of Murrysville, Pennsylvania; and sons Craig Mance (Jody) of Brewster, Massachusetts, and Douglas Mance (Laura) of Tucson, Arizona. The next generation, with whom Bob also shared his wisdom and love, include Chris Blauvelt (Maribel), Kyle Blauvelt (Kristen) and Jon Blauvelt; Kristin Laplante (Nate), Kelly Loveday (Adam) and Julie Main (Alex) and Jessie Zugerman (David), Andrea and Carly Mance. He and Mary were just beginning to influence seven great grandchildren, with more on the way.

We will all miss the intense interest that Bob Mance shared in our lives, but we know with confidence that his advice and mentoring over the years have prepared us all very well to continue on without him. Please stay in touch with the family for future, informal gatherings and remembrances. Rest assured that Bob Mance had a proud, fine run.

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