Friday, May 25, 2018
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John H. Vance, 1937-2011: Florist had success at numerous ventures

John H. Vance, 74, a florist, entrepreneur, real estate agent, and socialite, died Monday at Toledo Hospital.

Mr. Vance of Sylvania was taken to the hospital Monday after a fall at a craft store where he was buying Christmas items, but it is uncertain whether his death was caused by the fall or was attributable to other health problems, longtime friend Lynne Merritt said.

Mr. Vance never truly retired from his work as an interior decorator and businessman, Ms. Merritt said.

"He was an extremely hard worker," Ms. Merritt said. "He was very creative."

Mr. Vance was born in Toledo on Jan. 29, 1937, to John R. and Kathryn Vance.

He graduated from DeVilbiss High School in 1955.

While in school, in addition to working at Erie Drugs, Mr. Vance, in the basement of his mother's home, started making corsages for the girls at school to wear to prom, friend Randy Schott said.

"That's how he got started," Mr. Schott said.

After graduating, Mr. Vance spent a year at Ohio State University.

After that year, his mother gave him a choice: He could have the money for the next three years of college and get his degree or he could take the money and start his own business, Mr. Schott said.

He opened John H. Vance Floral Shop Inc. on Sylvania Avenue shortly thereafter and continued to try new business ventures, which included opening Little Pleasures, a gift shop, in the 1970s.

He opened a number of the stores in various college towns, including one in Columbus, Ms. Merritt said.

"He had really unusual gifts," Ms. Merritt said. "He had a real talent for finding unusual things for his store."

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Vance started to sell the Little Pleasures stores, shedding the last in the early 1980s.

With the proceeds from selling Little Pleasures, Mr. Vance, although he still operated his floral shop, began to buy different properties.

He converted apartments and duplexes into condominiums and then would sell them, Mr. Schott said.

"He was very fair," Mr. Schott said.

"And he was a good person to work for."

Ms. Merritt said that at the time of his death, Mr. Vance had a warehouse on Sylvania Avenue where he sold furniture and was still offering interior decorating services.

"He tried to slow down, but he never fully retired," Ms. Merritt said.

"Even though he had difficult health problems, when he could, he went into work every day. He didn't actually retire."

According to articles in The Blade, Mr. Vance was known as a host of lavish holiday parties, especially around Christmas.

A Blade reporter wrote that "anybody who was anybody" would be seen at his parties and described one as "a posh affair with a fabulous spread of gourmet treats and lots of interesting guests who gabbed the night away."

Mr. Vance, who had two black-and-white Pomeranians, Bleu and Angel, was also an avid supporter of the Toledo Animal Shelter, Ms. Merritt said.

"He loved his dogs," Ms. Merritt said. "His dogs gave him peace of mind and that companionship that's absolutely genuine. I know he loved his dogs."

Ms. Merritt said she is caring for Mr. Vance's two dogs and hopes to keep them.

She has had three dogs herself, all bought for her by Mr. Vance.

Surviving are his half brothers, Richard and Jeff Vance, and half sister, Susan Vance.

Visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the Walker Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Monday.

In lieu of flowers, tributes should be made to the Toledo Animal Shelter.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: or 419-724-6054.

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