Nick Lance

LANCE 5-2015Nick was born in Brooklyn, NY on December 13, 1949 to Evelyn and Nicholas Lance, but considered Middlesex, NJ his hometown.  He received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1973 and his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston in 1979.  He began his career at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in 1968 as a co-op student and was a team member of the Apollo Program, which landed men on the moon, and all of the human space flight programs after Apollo.  He retired in August 2009 after 41 years of service to NASA, where he earned his place as a proud member of the NASA family.

Ham radio was a big part of Nick’s life.  He was interested as a child and studied with his father, but never completed the tests to get his license.  Nick and his daughter Erica received consecutive licenses when she was a young child.  He was a member of the JSC Amateur Radio Club and past president of the Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (CLARC). Nick also played a prominent role in supporting numerous fun runs and marathons with emergency communications.

Nick taught amateur license classes both to the public and intermediate school students in the CCISD (Clear Creek Independent School District) for over 15 years, helping 30 – 40 students per year get their amateur licenses. CCISD awarded Nick the Secondary Volunteer of the Year Award in 2011.  Nick was on the ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) team, which organizes the ham radio contacts with the astronauts on the International Space Station. He was very proud of his role in preparing the astronauts to pass their amateur radio license exam.  In 2003 the Amateur Radio Relay League named Nick the Professional Educator of the Year. When he was not “radio-active,” Nick enjoyed traveling with his wife Renee and spending time with daughter Erica in Atlanta, GA, and son Nick in Ft. Collins, CO.

The sport of horseshoe pitching was always a passion of Nick’s. He won the New Jersey State Junior Championship in 1966 and became a member of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association after resuming the sport 35 years later. Since getting back in the game, he won back-to-back-to-back gold medals in the 2009, 2011, and 2013 Senior Olympic Games. In 2013 he won the Texas State Horseshoe Championship.

Nick was a great organizer, keeping his high school friends together through e-mail lists, and helping to host several NASA JSC Engineering Directorate reunions. He took the role of webmaster and Communications Committee Chair for the JSC Chapter of the NASA Alumni League (NAL), maintaining the ever-changing NAL e-mail list and keeping the members informed of NASA and JSC-related activities.

Nick went to be with his Lord and Savior while surrounded by friends and family on May 24, 2015, after experiencing complications due to an aortic aneurysm.  Nick is predeceased by his father Nicholas Lance.  He is survived by his wife Renee, his children Erica Lance White (husband Chris) and Nick D. Lance (fiancée, Megan Parus), his mother Evelyn Lance, his sister Lorice Wiczewski (husband Walter), his brother John Lance (wife Pattie Shieh), sister-in-law Janell Richter (husband James), and numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.

A celebration of Nick’s life will be held Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm in the Alamo Ballroom of the Gilruth Center, Space Center Blvd, Houston, TX.  All who knew him are welcome at this celebration.

The Nick Lance Memorial Scholarship fund has been established through the JSC Chapter of the NASA Alumni League.  Anyone wishing to donate may do so by sending a check payable to “NAL Nick Lance Scholarship Fund”, c/o Estella Gillette, 3739 W. Pine Brook Way, Houston, TX  77059.


  1. I am so saddened to hear this. Nick was a great person and he enjoyed keeping our class together. He will be missed at future reunions. My heart goes out to you Renee and to Erica and Nick. This past summer we shared about our respective children and he was so proud of you and sent me a clip from the frisbee? championship that Nick played in. He was an amazing, wonderful man.

    Janice (Hill) Churchill
  2. I remember all the fun band trips and chaperoning opportunities with Nick. He always kept us organized with a huge smile on his face. His contributions to his kids’ schools, band programs, sports programs, and other activities will be remembered by many. He definitely left his mark in Clear Lake, Texas!

    Jill Smitherman
  3. Nick was always at the 5K Runs in Nassau Bay and the Clear Lake Area with his wireless radio to watch out for the runners in case they needed help. He was always smiling and friendly to everyone. His loss will be felt by everyone with whom he came in contact over the years.

    Dr. Garland Bauch
  4. My heart goes out to you, Renee, to Erica and Nick, to Mrs. Lance and Lorice, and to all members of your family.

    Nick was a wonderful man, a wonderful person, a wonderful friend. He was gentle, kind, sincere, thoughtful, conscientious, hard working, selfless, committed, and loving. He cared. We all need more Nick Lances in the world today. He put others first. A high achiever, a great talent, and a highly intelligent man, he nevertheless relished being part of something greater than himself. He will be missed. I will miss him, always.

    Rest in peace, Nick.

    Sincerely, Read Rankin, Middlesex High School Class of ’68

    William Read Rankin
  5. Renee and family, my heart aches with you in your tragic loss of Nick. Nick has been my friend for the last approximately 48 years, starting when he was a co-op in my NASA group. Many times I and other coworkers went to lunch together, sometimes in Nick’s plain jane Toyota Corolla. Nick was such a pleasure to have as a coworker and friend. We are all devastated. He will be missed so much. Please know that we grieve with you.

    Dean Thompson, NASA CSD retiree
  6. Renee, Nick was a great nasa friend. I played softball and flag football with Nick.
    Nick was always a winner. Please know he will be missed.
    Harry Kolkhorst, NASA Retiree

    Harry Kolkhorst
  7. A friend to all for life. A great person to know and love. God bless.

    Bob Fisk
  8. I met Nick when I joined the Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (CLARC) shortly after I got my Technician license.
    He was always cheerful and as I got to know him I found out about some of the things he did to help others. Teaching children to help them get their amateur license, doing communications for public service events with other CLARC members.
    He was a modest man and never talked about himself so I didn’t know about all the other activities he was involved in until I read this. When did he find time to sleep?
    The world needs a lot more people like him.
    It was such a shock to me to find out about his passing.
    I will miss him, he was truly a friend to everyone he met.

    Lester Marshall KF5LCA
  9. Nick’s passing is devastating.

    A boyhood friend who grew up to be the nicest man I ever knew. Good humored, hard working, intelligent, just plain decent; no need to continue with the superlatives – anyone lucky enough to be associated with Nick knows his long list of sterling qualities.

    Renee, and Mrs. Lance, my heart aches for you and your family.

    Thank, Nick, for sharing your life with all of us.

    Jeff Nelson

    Jeff Nelson
  10. I was so shocked and saddened to hear this. Nick was a wonderful, kind, thoughtful, insightful and dedicated person to work with – he often took on challenges that others would not and saw the challenge through to successful completion. He was very highly regarded within the NASA community. I know he was making the absolute most out of retirement and was really enjoying it! It is so sad that he is no longer with us and, as others have said, he is a great example of the kind of people that this world needs many more of. He will truly be missed. My prayers are with his family.

    Beth Fischer
  11. Rest in peace, Nick.

    The Mets Softball Team

    Jim Pawlowski
  12. My heart is broken that we’ve lost our Nick. He was the glue that held our class together. I know we’ll all miss his kind, sweet, smiling face so much. From childhood on, he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. My sincerest condolences to Renee and his entire family.

    Carol Tanzer Morrison

    Carol Tanzer Morrison
  13. Nick, Dear Brother-in-law, your loss to us is so heart crushing. Over the years, I watched you make wise decisions for your family. it was a joy to watch you nurtured your children. You were involved and supportive. Thank you. I’ll never forget, when Renee and I buried our mother, you stood quietly in the background, occasionally burying your face in a large white hankie, silently grieving with us, but not wanting to add to our pain. This earth is a richer place because you came through it and now Heaven is richer because you are there. This farewell is just a “Good-night.” I’ll see you in the morning.

    Janell Richter

    Janell Richter
  14. My heart is broken for the Nick Lance family, Renee, Ericka, Nick, Lorice, Walter and especially Evelyn. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We are scheduled to be out of town on the 14th but will try to rearrange our schedule to be their for the celebration of Nick’s life. in

    Nick and Renee were our first friends in Clear Lake when we were transferred from New Jersey to Texas. It was wonderful having another Yankee in Nick to help us navigate the transition to Texans back in 1982.

    Many many hugs to the Lance family,
    Janet and John Roarty

    Janet Roarty
  15. Renee and family, Nick had such an impact on our family. We first met Nick at Westbrook Intermediate when our son Andrew enrolled in the Hamster radio class. From the various radio clubs, Hamventions, emergency training, astronaut contacts, youth forums, and award nominations, Nick was a true mentor to our youth. Nick and Andrew became great friends and Nick was the first Andrew wanted to talk to when he reached major milestones. Nick brought a sense of adventure and accomplishment to his students young and old. Thankfully we had the opportunity to express our gratitude to Nick on several occasions so he knew how important he was to us as well as the hundreds of students he taught. Nick will truly be missed. We are so very sorry for your loss.

    The Koenig Family

    Joe Koenig
  16. It breaks my heart to know that we won’t be seeing Nick’s smiling face around the neighborhood or in the community any longer. He was such a caring, gentle soul, who always had a kind word or a huge smile for everyone. His passing leaves a huge void in our neighborhood and in our community.

    I first met Nick back in the late 1980s, when we were working together in the New Initiatives Office at NASA. He was very professional in everything that he did, and he worked hard on every project. He was a devoted husband, father, and family man. The world would run a lot smoother if there were more people like Nick in charge.

    I would like to express my sincerest condolences to Renee, Nicky, Erica, and the rest of Nick’s family. You’re in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope that you can find some peace in all this sadness.

    Carey Naylor Sullivan

  18. Renee, Erica, Nicky and family,

    Our heart aches for all of you. Nick will be greatly missed by so many.
    With deepest sympathy,

    Sue, Ken & Katie Carlson
  19. Dear Nick’s family-
    You have my deepest sympathy. Nick was one of the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever met. He would tackle the mundane jobs with as much energy as the challenging ones–never complaining, instead turning them into value-added projects. Always tasked with several responsibilities on top of being a manager, Nick would never hesitate to take time out of his day to help anyone in need. Even after we had moved on to different organizations, I could always count on him to either know the answer or point me to the person who had the answer. Nick was a great collegue and friend who will be missed.

    Deb Neubek
  20. I was so saddened to hear about the loss of my long time friend and colleague. My heart is heavy but is lightened as I think back about all the times spent with Nick during Amateur Radio classes, ARRL testing sessions, Space Shuttle, Mir, and ISS radio contacts, supporting public service events by providing communications, SkyWarn exercises, Field Day and various other activities most of which Nick coordinated. I will sorely miss my friend. God Speed, Nick Lance. With heartfelt condolences to his family and numerous friends — Dr. Dan Feeback, W5DF

    Dan Feeback
  21. It was a privilege to have known Nick, first meeting him in 2001 when he appointed himself to show us through JSC then taking us home for lunch and meet his family, then a couple of weeks later stay with them while in the USA. From that first day meeting him we formed a wonderful friendship. This year we were so excited when Renee asked if we could meet them in Tasmania in April and tour the Island with them for 2 weeks. We all had a wonderful time and were just stunned when we heard about Nick a few weeks later. Nick’s words when we put them on the plane were “don’t say goodbye, it’s till we meet again” He really was a man in a million, a kind and sincere friend that we will never forget. Jill and I pass on our condolences Renee, Erica, Nicky and other members of his family

    Jill &Tony Hutchison
  22. We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, colleague and fellow Yellow Jacket. Nick was a ‘heckuva an Engineer’ as well as a friendly and helpful person no matter where he was encountered. He will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathy to the entire Lance family. May Nick rest in peace.

    Pat and Juergen Bahr
  23. Nick was such a competent, problem solving person. I remember him out there at the Armand Bayou fun runs making sure everyone was safe. I learned HAM radio from Nick and remember his excitement when communicating with the space station and being able to talk with someone half way around the world. He’s what we needed during major disasters and he had preparations ready. It was obvious that he had great love for his family and Jerry and I always enjoyed being around him.

    Jean Krebs
  24. Renee and family
    I am truly saddened to learn of Nick’s passing. I can’t remember just when I had my first opportunity to provide Nick with contract support during my 35+ JSC years BUT every one was a joy. He was one of the most dedicated and diligent engineers I knew. I am so sorry for your loss.
    God Bless.
    Tom Krenek

    Thomas (Tom) Krenek
  25. Dear Renee and Family: My deepest sympathy goes to and your family.

    I am in total shock and sadness of Nicks passing, I wasn’t real close to Nick in High School but we knew each other well. We grew closer after school years with reunions and trips planned by him. He was the glue and foundation of the Class of “68”. I and all that knew him will miss Nick greatly, again I am deeply saddened and will miss him greatly

    Mike and Brenda Sarao

    Michael J. Sarao
  26. Renee and Family
    Everyone on the Katy Trail Ride will miss Nick. He was always the first one to offer help if a fellow cyclist had a problem. Everyone enjoyed him pointing out the Space Station and asking him questions about NASA.
    We all lost a very good man.

    Dave and Shannie Henley

    Dave Henley
  27. I spent 3 amazing weeks with Nick and Renee in New Zealand; they were the surrogate parents to the whole group and endeared us to them with their kindness and humor. Nick was always the consummate boy scout, prepared with a screw driver or monocular as needed I’ll never forget looking at the southern sky with Nick as he pointed out stars, planets and satellites. Whenever I look up at night and am filled with awe, I’ll think of Nick and his wonderful smile. My love and heart go to Renee and his family.

    Raima Svoboda
  28. Renee, Nick, and Erica;
    Just found out about Nick’s passing. The Harris family send our heartfelt condolences to you and your family. We are so sad for you all. We have fond memories of our Georgia Tech connection and our family dinners. Nick was a wonderful friend and we will miss him. Please let us know if we can do anything for you. Our love and sympathies,
    Jim, Linda and Nick Harris

    Linda Harris
  29. Briefly over the past year I spoke with Nick regarding some work at NASA. He was kind, professional, smart, and full of life. I did not know him well, but just from our brief conversations, I could tell that he was a man of intelligence, diligence, integrity, and human compassion. My thoughts are with your family.

    Jennifer Herron
  30. I composed a song and dedicated it to Nick Lance,
    a wonderful person and engineer. To have known
    him and worked with him at the Johnson Space Center
    was a blessing to all, especially those who have retired.
    The YouTube link is below. The title of the song is:
    “Riding the Rocket to Planet Mars.” The lyrics came to me
    on Mary 24th, 2015. Obviously, the Lord had intended
    it for Nick as a dedication to his life.

    Jerry Woodfill, ER7

    Jerry Woodfill
  31. It was great knowing Nick from NASA, as a neighbor, community volunteer and fellow Boy Scout Parent. It was always a pleasure to see Nick so often as I ran past him during numerous running events in the Clear Lake area while he monitored runners while using his ham radio talents.

    Dan Barta
  32. To Renee and family, my sincere condolences are with you in this time of loss. I worked with Nick at NASA, and was a fellow member of NASA Alumni League with him. He was a great man and exceptionally capable engineer, as well as being very personable and organizing activities. You and your family are in my prayers and I will remember Nick as one of those special people, that our good Lord gave us the honors of knowing and loving. God bless you;

    Larry E Bell
  33. Sorry for being so late leaving my condolences. Nick was a good friend and business associate. Enjoyed working with him when I was working at JSC, His friendship will always be remembered. Our love for Han Radio and working together was shared as a rewarding time together.

    Always remembered in my prayers,


    Hank Fahrlander
  34. Thank you Nick Lance for your service to the United States Coast Guard and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary at Sector Houston-Galveston as a member of Flotilla 6-10 at Ellington Field. It was an honor to know you and you always gave 100% to anything you did. On behalf of the USCG thank you for your service to us and the community.

    Chuck Maricle

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