In Memoriam: Richard R. Lance
April 22, 2016 – Mr. Richard R. “Rick” Lance, former President of the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), died on April 21, 2016.
Lance served as NBA President from 1982 to 1996, succeeding William T. Gibble upon his retirement. By 1988, Lance had led the NBA to be recognized by The Non-Profit Times as one of the top charities in the United States. In his 14 years as NBA President, he led NBA growth from 42 to 82 care-giving facilities across the United States, and assets increased from $78 million to $305 million.
“Rick was not a corner-office president,” said Leon Whitney, former NBA CFO during Lance’s tenure. “He cared about the people we were serving, as well as the local and nationwide staff who were helping him get the job done. He made us dream big, then plan big. He stretched us and made us grow.”
A career U.S. Air Force officer, Lance retired in 1974 from his post as Deputy Director of Intelligence Estimates at Strategic Air Command (SAC) headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. During his 20 years with the Air Force, he served as a crew member and was selected for the Air Force University in 1964. From Second Lieutenant, he rose rapidly through the ranks—serving as Division Chief-Operational Readiness Surveys, Director of Bomber Operations, Director of Strategic Weapons Concepts, and Director of Strategic Intelligence—and ended his military career as a Colonel.
Upon returning to civilian life, Lance was appointed Executive Director of Child Saving Institute (1974-77) and later served as Executive Director of Kansas Christian Home (1977-1982). This made him the first NBA chief administrator since Fannie Shedd Ayars—one of NBA’s original founders—to have had previous experience operating an NBA program.
Lance was also the first layperson to be full-time president of the NBA. He was active in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the congregational, regional, and general levels. Originally from Kansas, Lance served as an elder in local congregations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Nebraska, and served extensively on local church committees in the areas of stewardship, outreach, and worship. Lance also served on the Regional Boards of Nebraska and Kansas, and was a member of the Board of Directors of Axtell Christian Hospital (now Newton Medical Center in Newton, Kansas). From 1988-1991 and 2003-2011, Lance served on the Board of Directors of the Christian Church Foundation. Following retirement, Lance and his wife, Janice, resided between Kansas City and the San Antonio area, where they attended North Central Christian Church.
“Rick’s keen intellect was matched only by his deep commitment to the church,” said Gary Kidwell, President of the Christian Church Foundation. “During his service on the Foundation’s board, I came to depend upon his wise counsel and his unwavering support of this ministry. The church has lost another giant, and I have lost a dear friend.”
Lance earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Kansas, an MBA from George Washington University, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Northwest Christian University, and an Honorary Doctor of Public Service from Christian Theological Seminary. With his robust education, and executive experience in the military and with NBA facilities, Lance was particularly qualified to serve as NBA’s President and in other leadership roles across the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
“Rick was a beloved leader who touched the lives of many,” said Mark D. Anderson, NBA President and CEO. “I’m grateful for the wisdom and leadership of this saint of our Disciples Church. The NBA follows in the footsteps of our founders, caring for the ‘least of these,’ and strives to carry on the legacy of leaders like Rick Lance.”
Information Regarding Visitation, Funeral Service, and Memorials
**We also invite you to share your memories and prayers in the comments below, which we will share with the Lance family.**
Obituary: Published in The Kansan, April 23, 2016.
Visitation: Monday, April 25, 2016 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Mt. Moriah Funeral Home – 10507 Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO 64131
Funeral Service: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Andrew Christian Church – 13890 W. 127th Street, Olathe, KS 66062
Memorials: North Central Christian Church, 1300 Evans Road, San Antonio, TX 78258
Condolences from General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins (view letter)
*Historical information sourced from Inasmuch…The Saga of the NBA, Hiram J. and Marjorie Lee Lester, 1987.