Bonnie Lou Osborn Vance, 86, of Charlottesville, Virginia, died peacefully at home on February 7, 2018. She was born in Columbus, Ohio, on May 10, 1931, the daughter of Rev. Clarice Dwight Osborn and Marjorie Lou Sain Osborn. The Osborn family loved music, and Bonnie and her four siblings were often called upon to sing or play for church and even on the local radio. As a high school student, she enjoyed singing in choirs, performing in The Mikado, and doing solo work in the community. Bonnie attended The Ohio State University and Findlay College (the University of Findlay), receiving her BS in Elementary Education with a minor in Music in 1953. She taught second grade at Detwiler School in Findlay for two years. In 1955, she married Miles E. Vance and they moved to Columbus, where she taught for a year before they started their family. Over the years, the Vances lived in Columbus, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Corning, New York, settling in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2012.
Bonnie loved the 24 years she spent as a homemaker and mother before returning to teaching. She was a beloved nursery school teacher (1981-1996) and children’s choir director (1979-2004) in Corning and was a member of the Southern Tier Association for the Education of Young Children. Her children’s choir put on musicals, sang for Sunday services, and went on the road to bring joy to the residents of retirement communities in the Corning area.
Bonnie was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church (and its predecessors, the Evangelical and Evangelical United Brethren Churches) and spent countless hours teaching Sunday School, singing in the Choir, coordinating the prayer chain, serving on the worship, music, education, and caring committees, and always making newcomers feel at home. She and Miles participated in ongoing small in-depth discussion groups which were an important part of their lives in Corning and Raleigh. In the community, Bonnie and Miles helped organize the annual Corning CROP walk for hunger and were longtime members of the Steuben County (NY) Environmental Management Council. Bonnie’s love of springtime and appreciation for the beauty of the world evolved into an enduring commitment to recycling and to walking rather than driving to do errands.
In retirement, Bonnie served as a substitute church organist, played and sang at nursing homes, and traveled with Miles to spend time with their children and grandchildren. After moving to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2012, Bonnie volunteered through the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA), providing music at several residential care facilities. Until just a few months before her death, she played for weekly adult and preschool sing-alongs at the JABA day center.
Bonnie’s Christian faith was most often expressed through music and helping others. To each day, she brought a special positive energy and warmth. She always listened actively, responded graciously, and was eager to resolve differences. Her determination and constant spirit helped each friend and relative feel special and important to her, and her wit and infectious laugh made her fun to be around.
Bonnie was preceded in death by her parents and by her brothers, John F. Osborn and Noel D. Osborn. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Miles E. Vance; her sisters, Marjorie Osborn Fleming of Findlay and Blanche Osborn Taylor of Grand Rapids, Michigan; daughter Barbara S. Vance (Richard D. Janda) of Bloomington, Indiana; daughter Karen B. Michie (Edmund R.) of Charlottesville, Virginia; son Joseph E. Vance (Joanne L. W.) of Durham, North Carolina; grandchildren Molly Michie, Caroline Vance, Julianne Vance, John Vance, Claire Janda, Lily Vance, and Annabel Vance; cousins Carolyn Sain Strauch and Barbara Sain Dwyer; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Bonnie’s family would like to thank friends and family for their love and support during Bonnie’s illness, especially Miles’s brothers, David and George; his late sister, Victoria Moseley; Bonnie’s sister Marnie; and Bonnie’s dear friend Carol Allan. We also appreciate the kindness and understanding shown to Bonnie over the last two years by the JABA-Hillsdale adult day center staff and the recent help and guidance provided by Hospice of the Piedmont. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bonnie’s name to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (1-800-554-8583;, the Alzheimer’s Association (434-973-6122, ext. 113;, or a charity of your choice.
A memorial service in celebration of Bonnie’s life will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Findlay on March 31, 2018. Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home ( is assisting with arrangements.