Glenn Nance Obituary (1934 – 2022) – Colma, CA

Glenn Ray Nance
July 2, 1934 – March 27, 2022
Glenn Ray Nance, a beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle and a friend found eternal rest on March 27, 2022. Born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934, Glenn was the youngest of two sons born to Ethel Ray Nance and LeRoy AH Williams. When he was five years old, he and his family packed up and moved to Hampton, Virginia, where his mother would work as a secretary at Hampton University. When Glenn was still a young boy, the family moved again, now relocating to Seattle, Washington, where the family remained before moving to San Francisco in 1945. There Glenn would live out the remainder of his life. After graduating from Polytechnic High School, Glenn decided to join the US Army active duty. From 1954 to 1956, he served as an Engineer in the US Army, being stationed in South Korea. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from San Francisco State University with a major in Art and a secondary teaching credential. Continuing his studies, Glenn earned a Master of Arts Degree from Stanford University with a major in American History and a minor in African History.
Glenn’s interests and accomplishments were many and varied. He was a cherished educator and counselor, an artist and active member of the community. Glenn began his career as a teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District in 1965 at Abraham Lincoln High School and later taught at Lowell High School. In 1969 Glenn joined the faculty of City College of San Francisco, retiring in 2010. There he would become the first African American chair of the African American Studies Department. At City College of San Francisco, Glenn served two terms as President of the Academic Senate and he started the Black Student Unification Club, the first Black Student Union at CCSF. Glenn received many awards for his academic achievements, including the Annual Education Week Award bestowed in 1997 by the Iota Phi Lambda Sorority in collaboration with the United States Senate. Glenn was a great lover of the arts and culture. He expressed this passion through his involvement with the West Coast Black Repertoire Theater as a set designer. In a 1973 article in the San Francisco Sunday Examiner-Chronicle, titled “Set Designer Glenn Nance is a Sculptor of People,” he is quoted as saying: “Black theater from a technical perspective is a field which has hardly been tapped. It’s a field that offers many advantages to younger blacks today.” At this time, Glenn thought to have been the city’s only black set designer.
He was an avid enthusiast of the fine arts, with a deep appreciation for classical music and the opera. He took pride in contributing to local museums, particularly exhibits centered upon black artists. Glenn had a deep interest in understanding people both locally and from around the world. Another way that he expressed his interest in culture was through travel, and throughout his life, he traveled widely throughout the world. Some of his most favorite places were Africa (Ghana & Kenya), Austria (Salzburg & Vienna, Egypt (Cairo & Luxor), Mexico (Cabo San Lucas & Puerto Vallarta) and Hungary (Budapest).
Glenn had a profound and persevering understanding of the importance of community and was recognized throughout his life for his contributions to the people around him. He demonstrated his commitment to community and culture through his involvement with the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, where he served as a Board Member. He also served effectively and efficiently as a Board Chair at The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples and gave generously of his time, intelligence and finances to enhance the church.
Glenn understood and fully embodied these words from the late Dr. Thurman: Our dreams must be saddled by the hard facts of our world before we ride them off among the stars. Thus, they become for us the bearers of the new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope. Even as they romp among the stars they come back to their place in our lives, bringing with them the radiance of the far heights, the lofty regions, and giving to all our days the lift and the magic of the stars.
Glenn’s dreams were acorns that would mature into mighty oaks of knowledge, social contextualization, cultural awareness and sensitivity, forgotten or ignored paradigms of life, resurrected landscapes of inspiration and hope, and hidden openings to beauty.
Glenn was preceded in death by his youngest son, Glenn Nance, Jr.; his older brother, Thatcher Popel Nance; his grandson, Chris Nance. He is survived by his sons, Craig and Carlton Nance; daughters, Anyika and Mariama Nance; grandsons, Lajuane and Jordan Nance; granddaughter, Sierra Nance; great-granddaughter, Atarah Powell; niece, Karen Nance; Nephews, Eric and Thatcher Nance, Jr.

Published by San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 22, 2022.

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