By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - R.C. Vance spent a lifetime playing and promoting the bluegrass music he learned to play on the fiddle before the age of 14.
Mr. Vance died Monday at his home here. He was 75.
For 17 years until the late 1990s, Mr. Vance helped his wife of 50 years, Helen, book the bands for the Florence Y'All Celebration, for which he was master of ceremonies. Most of the bands he scheduled played bluegrass or country music.
He often played fiddle at the festival with his bluegrass band, Orange Blossom Express.
Ted Bushelman, chairman of the Florence Y'All Celebration for 15 years, until 2000, and a member of Florence City Council, said Mr. Vance could always be counted on to book quality bands.
"He understood the music, especially the bluegrass, and he knew what was good and what was bad," Mr. Bushelman said.
"He ran the whole thing, the stage, he got the sound crew together, and put the bands in the right order," Mr. Bushelman said.
Growing up in Scott County, Ky., Mr. Vance's career was as a special agent and detective for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. He started with the L&N in 1955 in Georgetown, before moving to Northern Kentucky.
He retired after more than 30 years of service.
After his retirement, Mr. Vance and his wife opened a club in the mid-1980s, Boone County Bluegrass Jamboree, on East Bend Road near Burlington.
Mr. Vance's band played every Saturday night. Friday nights were for country music, Mrs. Vance said.
Boone County Bluegrass Jamboree remained open for almost 10 years until failing health forced Mr. Vance to close the club in 1996.
In addition to his wife, survivors include three sons, Andrew and Brad, both of Florence; and Byron of Burlington; two daughters, Sandra Vance and Monica Williamson, both of Florence; a brother, William Jr. of Scott County, Ky.; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Friday and service noon Saturday at Stith Funeral Home, 7500 U.S. 42, Florence. Burial will be in Burlington Cemetery.
Memorials: National Kidney Foundation of Kentucky, 250 E. Liberty St., Suite 710, Louisville 40202-1537; or St. Elizabeth Hospice Program, 401 E. 20th St., Covington 41014-9988.
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