Dorothy E. Porter Vance
Dorothy E. Porter Vance

November 5, 1925 - August 8, 2018
Born in Nanking, China
Resided in Loveland, Colorado
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Dorothy Eleanor Porter Vance, age 92, died of natural causes Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at Good Samaritan Loveland Village, in Loveland, Colorado. A Memorial Service celebrating Dorothy’s life will be held at Dunn’s Funeral Home at 2121 Grand Ave. in Des Moines, Iowa on Wednesday, September 5 at 1:00 p.m., with a Visitation at Dunn’s beginning at 11:00 a.m. prior to the Service. A graveside committal service at Glendale Cemetery will be held immediately following the Service.

Dorothy Vance was born on November 5, 1925 in Nanking, China to Dr. & Mrs. R. Howard Porter, where her father was an agricultural missionary and professor. At the age of 16 months, she, her parents and 4-year-old sister, Harriet, came to the United States as refugees fleeing a civil war that had broken out in March of 1927. Her family settled in Ames, Iowa near her maternal grandparents, where she lived until 1949. While living in Ames she attended Ames Public Schools and graduated in 1943 from Ames High School.

Dorothy recalled her childhood with great fondness, and especially cherished growing up within a few blocks of her maternal grandparents. During her youth in Ames she became a Camp Fire Girl, an active member of the Collegiate Presbyterian Church, sang in the choir and participated in the youth fellowship program, de-tasseled corn in the summer, and was active in several Ames High School organizations, and later helped to organize the periodic class of ‘43 reunions through 2008.

Her childhood was enriched by growing up in a home with her parents and four siblings in which an appreciation of music, education and cultural diversity were the cornerstones. Her father served as Counselor to Foreign Students at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) where many of the students became life-long family friends. Dorothy became an accomplished pianist, playing as early as 2nd grade on the radio at ISU. During her high school and college years she appeared regularly on WOI, Ames’ classical radio station. She received accolades for her performance in her solo recital as a senior in high school in April, 1943.

Following graduation from Ames High School, she attended Iowa State College from 1943-1945, majoring in Food Chemistry and Nutrition. During these two years she was an active member of the Gamma Phi Beta Social Sorority.

On February 20, 1945, Dorothy married her high school sweetheart, Paul Cessna Vance, when he was home on Leave from the U.S. Army Air Corps. She joined him soon after in Boise, Idaho, where they lived at Gowan Air Force Base until Paul was sent overseas to serve in the Pacific Theatre of World War II as a bombardier on a B24. Their first child, Ellen Christine, was born February 1946 and second daughter, Paula Olivia, born March 1956.

Following her husband’s return from the war, they lived in Ames until 1949. It was during this time she was initiated into Chapter HN of P.E.O. and remained an active member of Chapters in five Iowa towns, and most recently in Chapter GU of Loveland, CO. During her 69 years as a P.E.O., she chartered two Iowa chapters, held every office and attended several conventions.

From 1949-1964, due to her husband’s career in public school Special Education, they lived in several Iowa communities, including Ruthven, Missouri Valley, Atlantic, Bettendorf and Des Moines. While she served as a devoted wife, mother and homemaker during these years, she also held several part-time jobs, including Assistant Clerk of Court in Harrison County and as Receptionist in the Guidance Office at Bettendorf High School. She was an active member of the Presbyterian Church in all places she lived and served as a volunteer for various school organizations, including the PTA.

In 1964, Dorothy and her family moved to Des Moines, where her husband became a Professor in the College of Education at Drake University and they resided in Des Moines for the next 48 years. For the first two years in Des Moines, Dorothy worked as an assistant statistician for the State of Iowa Mental Retardation (Special Education) Project. In 1967 at the age of 42, she returned to college to complete her degree in Elementary Education at Drake University where she received General and Department honors for scholarship and was on the President’s List each semester.

In her 40s, she launched a career in education that spanned the next 25 years. Those years as an educator for the Des Moines Public School System were notable for her superb teaching skills of 5th & 6th graders in the Academically Talented and Gifted programs at Madison and Monroe Elementary schools; serving as an Elementary Resource for Project NIFTY, a staff development program; as a Gifted & Talented Resource teacher for transitional schools; as an ESL Resource teacher as an Elementary Counselor at King, Perkins, and Greenwood Elementary Schools; and for completing her career as a Smooth Sailing Counselor at Greenwood Elementary School. She retired from this remarkable career in 1992 at the age of 67.

The hallmarks of her career included the completion of her Masters of Education from Drake University in Elementary Counseling, with 30+ hours of additional course work beyond her Masters; trained as a Connie Belin Fellow at ISU; completed a certification for secondary administration at Drake University; served as a frequent presenter and guest lecturer as a Staff Development facilitator and specialist in Gifted & Talented education; held leadership roles on local boards in numerous professional education organizations including ACEI, Kappa Kappa Iota, Alpha Delta Kappa and Phi Delta Kappa and was one of 3 teachers who initiated Creative Problem Solving in Des Moines Public Schools. She was published as a co-producer of the Project NIFTY staff development curriculum guides and Gifted & Talented curriculum, and the author of two published poems.

Following retirement Dorothy continued to expand her mind and talents. She remained a member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, her P.E.O. chapter, several book and bridge clubs and social groups. She traveled with her husband and learned to play the guitar. She was an avid reader and writer and became a master seamstress and quilter - along with crochet, embroidery, needle point, and tatting. She leaves behind a treasure trove of many lovingly-made heirloom pieces. The highlight of her retirement years was spent with her two daughters, four grandchildren and their families. In 2012, at the age of 87, Dorothy moved from her beloved Iowa to Loveland, Colorado to be closer to her family, where she resided until her death.

Dorothy is survived and lovingly remembered by her two daughters, Christine (Mrs. Steve) Heilman of Port Angeles, WA and Paula Waldorf of Loveland, Colorado; four grandchildren: Erik (Katie) Heilman of Washington, D.C., Lesley (Mrs. Brian) Compagnone of Arlington, VA, Dustin (Carly) Waldorf of Loveland, CO, Jack (Monica) Waldorf of Erie, CO; seven great-grandchildren, listed in order of age: Caden Waldorf, Caroline Compagnone, Cassidy Waldorf, Ellie Heilman, Harry Waldorf, Sam Heilman and Ben Waldorf; one sister, Lois (Mrs. Richard) Roberts of MA, and many nieces and nephews. Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband Paul of 63 years, her parents, her brother Eugene Porter and two sisters, Harriett Moore and Phyllis Noble.

In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests that any memorial donations be made to: Iowa National Heritage Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife Federation or Pathways Hospice of Loveland, Colorado.


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Memorial Visitation
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Memorial Service
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
1:00 PM
Glendale Cemetery
4909 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50311
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
2:30 PM


Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
505 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
Pathways Hospice-Loveland
2000 North Boise Avenue; 3rd Floor
Loveland, Colorado 80538
World Wildlife Fund
1250 24th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037
National Wildlife Federation
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190-5362