An Endless Passion for Lifelong Learning and Fulfillment

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An Endless Passion for Lifelong Learning and Fulfillment
Vance with wife Jean on their wedding day, 1954

Vance Genzlinger, ’51, found friendship and love through Phi Kappa Sigma that carries on today

Vance Genzlinger, ’51, had no idea when he met his suite mate, Clifford Stewart, that their friendship and brotherhood bond would turn into so much more as the years have gone by. But that is exactly what happened when Vance found the love of his life through Cliff. “I married Cliff’s sister, Jean, and was also Best Man in his wedding,” Vance shares. Throughout the years, Vance and Cliff became close and remain close today, even though their wives have both recently passed away. “I still go on trips with Cliff and our families,” he says.

Long before a successful career and family life, Vance came to Penn State University to study Electrical Engineering. At the urging of a friend, he decided to join Phi Kappa Sigma in 1950. Being part of the fraternity enabled Vance to find comfort and develop deep relationships as a young man away from home. “Being part of Phi Kappa Sigma was a good experience in every way,” he recalls. “It provided me with a warm, friendly place to live, study, and party!”

Socially, Vance fondly recalls the many house parties weekends that often took place. Academically, Vance can now look back and recognize the impact the fraternity had on his success. “My education was supported within Phi Kappa Sigma because they gave me suite mates, Cliff, Bill Hafley, and Ron Coder. They were all sympathetic to having a quiet room in which to study,” he recalls.

Since graduating in 1951, Vance has led a fulfilling life, one of service, entrepreneurship, friendship, and family. Two months post-college, Vance was drafted into the Army Signal Corps during the Korean War to work with a team to design a digital computer to aim anti-aircraft weapons at enemy aircraft from radar data. After his military service, Vance went to work for Burroughs Corporation, a former computer mainframe manufacturer, where he installed the first digital computer (the B205) in the state of Michigan.

Continuing his drive for success, Vance moved on to manage the consulting department for the CPA firm, Plante and Moran, before starting his own company, Genzlinger Associates. His company develops and installs repetitive manufacturing software.

During all this time, Vance married the love of his life, Jean Stewart, in 1954. Spending the entire 60 years of marriage in Michigan, Vance and Jean created a beautiful family, which includes five children (3 boys and two girls), 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. After retiring at age 72, Vance turned Genzlinger Associates over to his son, Brent.

Cherishing his family, Vance emphasizes how important having them in his life continue to be. “My wife passed away six months after our 60th anniversary. Jean and I were blessed with a great life together. At 88 years old, I still see different combinations of my kids and grandchildren every week,” he says.

Although retired, Vance has not stopped moving forward, both physically and academically. In fact, after retiring, Vance returned to college at Oakland University in Michigan to earn his BA in Philosophy and BS in Modern Physics, something he puts to use each day. “My current activity is to study and have published articles that bridge the gap between God and Science,” he proudly states.

An Endless Passion for Lifelong Learning and Fulfillment
When he was 65, Vance decided to start playing the trumpet, before switching to the Alto Sax. His passion for music led him to start swing bands in two senior citizen centers, playing 1930s and 1940s music at dances.

But hitting the books isn’t all that has kept Vance busy. When he was 65, Vance decided to start playing the trumpet, before switching to the Alto Sax. His passion for music led him to start swing bands in two senior citizen centers, playing 1930s and 1940s music at dances.

Another passion for Vance, gardening, is one he shared with Jean. “We built a contemporary home on a two-acre wooded lot in Bloomfield Hills, where we lived for 48 years,” states Vance. “We specialized in wild flowers and lilies and had a trillium patch the size of a bedroom that bloomed pure white in the Spring!”

In addition to his many accomplishments, both professionally and personally, Vance found joy in running later in life. “One summer at age 42, I started running with my son who wanted to get in shape for football,” he explains. “The year I turned 50, I ran my first of three marathons. A few years later, I learned about Olympic style racewalking. I took to it like a duck to water.” By age 60, Vance was on the national and international scene, participating in the National Senior Games and the USATF Masters Track and Field programs, receiving dozens of medals in his age group for distances between 1 mile to 20 km, as well as the recipient of three gold, two silver, and one bronze world championship medals.

While his life and career have taken him far and his experiences great, Vance will always remember his time at Phi Kappa Sigma. He proudly supports the chapter financially, hoping to do his part in keeping his home-away-from home beautiful and in good repair. It is through his support that he wants to see the next generation of Brothers do their part to continue to showcase the great men that the fraternity produces. “I hope they do the best they can in school, set goals and formulate a plan to achieve them, marry a woman they can love and stay with to eternity, and start saving and investing in their retirement as soon as they are settled in a good job,” he advises. But most of all, he hopes that his fellow Brothers have and will enjoy a life of happiness and fulfillment, as Vance has. “Happiness is not being wealthy or having relentless fun. It is in being useful to your family, neighbors, and country.”