Vance Alfred Meares passed peacefully to his Creator on April 27, 2017 at his home, in Carthage, Mo., after a short illness. He was born on March 14, 1921, in Reeds, Mo., the son of Rhese and Irene (Ferguson) Meares.
Vance and his sister Jeanette (Ashmun) formed their work ethic on the Meares farm, making do with what they had, but feeling fortunate to always have food on the table. He graduated from Sarcoxie High School at age 16 and joined the National Guard the following year.
Vance was the last known surviving member of The 203rd Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) of the Missouri National Guard, the "Houn' Dawgs". This unit had the distinction of being the first National Guard regiment called up for federal service. He served as a gun commander during the unit's tour in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands protecting our northern skies.
Vance was retrained for infantry duty in 1944 and sent to Europe to reinforce the Allied offensive during World War II. He became a squad leader and saw action in Belgium and Germany. He earned several awards including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, and Expert Rifleman. He was wounded by artillery in April 1945 and finished his extended military service rehabilitating in a VA hospital in Michigan. He subsequently attended Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kan., on the GI Bill.
In 1947, Vance married Margarete Vaile and they lived on the family farm and raised eight children.
In 1955, Vance became Postmaster of Reeds, Mo., where he served until 1977 and then served as Sarcoxie Postmaster until his retirement in 1989. He continued to work part-time for social reasons, as an Ambassador at Freeman Hospital for several years and volunteering whenever he had an opportunity.
Vance was a charter member of Center Creek Country Club near Sarcoxie in 1972, where he became an avid golfer. The family is very grateful to the staff and members of the club who respected him and lovingly watched out for him. He continued to golf regularly until his health declined this past season. He enjoyed golfing as a challenge to a large extent, but mostly it was an outdoor activity to share with friends and family.
The guiding principles of Vance's character were his love of God, family and country. He often said he was the richest man on earth, and his greatest treasure was his family. He particularly enjoyed holidays with large gatherings, and any activity involving fireworks.
Many community organizations benefited from his civic mindedness. Vance served in many capacities at Dudman Springs Presbyterian Church and the Dudman Springs Cemetery Association. He served as president of the Sarcoxie School Board and worked tirelessly to pass the bond issue to build the Sarcoxie High School gymnasium. He coached many Little Leaguers on his War Eagles team who made lifetime bonds with him. He supported many benevolent service organizations including the American Legion, Masonic Lodge, and American Red Cross.
He was a proud veteran and participated last year at the age of 95 in an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., where he saw the World War II Memorial. The highlight of the trip was to be accompanied by his daughter, Rebecca, and to be met on the tour by his son Barry's family who live in the Washington, D.C. area.
Vance was preceded in death by his wife, Margarete, and his sons Bruce, Terry, and Rhese.
He is survived by his two daughters, Colleen Kendrick (Don), of Neosho, and Rebecca Meares-Jones (Dan), of San Antonio, Texas. He is also survived by sons, Barry (Halszka), of Reston, Va., Kelly (Terri), of Carl Junction, and Bryan (Annita), of Carthage, Mo.; nine grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and two great-great- grandchildren.
Visitation will be held 6-7 p.m., Thursday, May 4, at Knell Mortuary. Memorial services will be held 10 a.m., Friday, May 5, at Knell Mortuary. Inurnment will take place at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to Sarcoxie Community Outreach or Dudman Springs Cemetery Association, in care of Knell Mortuary, 308 West Chestnut Street, Carthage, MO
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Published on May 3, 2017