Tributes Pour In For D.C. Legend Jim Vance’s Death

Longtime Washington news anchor Jim Vance passed away Saturday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 75. Vance has been renowned for years because of his “smooth voice, brilliant mind, and unforgettable laugh,” per his boss at NBC.

Vance began his career as a news reporter for the Philadelphia Independent newspaper at WHAT-AM radio station, while maintaining his job as an English teacher for three years. By 1972, Vance became WRC-TV’s main co-anchor, which made him one of the first African Americans to serve in the position at any television station in the United States.

Starting in 1989, Vance joined the longest-running anchor team in Washington television history, alongside co-anchor Doreen Gentlzer. Vance, a 45-year news anchor veteran, announced to his colleagues and news viewers that he was battling cancer back in May. However, he did not say what type of cancer he was dealing with.

Vance explained to his devoted fans that he needed to take some time away from his job as news anchor to deal with cancer. Preceding, Vance gave his co-workers a more devastating message. The Washington Post reports that as Vance’s colleagues gathered in the WRC-TV (Channel 4) newsroom, he expressed the finality of his diagnosis. Vance stated, “ I have lived a good life,” adding that it was full of blessings that not many people have had.

NY Daily News reports that Jackie Bradford, station president, stated, “For more than 45 years, Jim Vance was not only the soul of NBC4 but of the entire Washington area. His smooth voice, brilliant mind and unforgettable laugh leaves each of us with a tremendous void.”

Vance was also known for being easy on the eyes and effortlessly charismatic. Still, his success is entrenched in the way he delivered the news, with affinity but with no melodrama or dogmas.

This was shown through Vance’s ability to remain placid even in the most traumatic times. For instance, the day of the 1989 Air Florida plane crash and Metro mishaps, viewers were still able to find solace in Vance’s calm spirit and proficiency. For this, he earned his 19 local Emmy Awards.

Vance’s reputation as a brazen and confident man carried on to his own personal issues. His honesty about his addiction and depression assisted in propelling him to celebrity status. Still, his purpose was never to capitalize off his demons, but to truly help others by sharing his own story.

Vance was a humanitarian in his community. He spoke frequently at high school graduations, community events, and church organizations. Vance often led fundraisers to donate to causes dear to his heart, such as, the Theatre Lab and Concerned Black Men.

NBC Washington reports that Chairman Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council, stated, “I knew him, in the same way everyone else did, as a TV newscaster,” Mendelson said. “But I also knew Jim as an adoptive parent, and as a citizen of D.C and as someone who cared deeply about our community. Jim will be missed. And that’s an understatement.”

The news of Vance’s death has not only rocked the news world, but the entire D.C. community. Vance has inspired many generations of African American’s who have a passion for journalism. Vance’s immense spirit reached everyone he met and his legacy is sure to live on through his loved ones, fellow journalists, and his viewers who hold him so close to their hearts.

Jim Vance will be missed.


 – Contributed by Amaya Starkey


WHUR Contributor

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