Nick Lance, KC5KBO
Nick was born to Evelyn and Nicholas Lance in Brooklyn, NY on December 13, 1949, but considered Middlesex, NJ his hometown. He earned his Bachelor of 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. He continued on all human space flight programs thereafter. In August 2009, after 41 years of service with NASA, he retired, though continued belonging to and proudly supporting the NASA family.
Ham radio was a big part of Nick’s life. As a child, he studied with his father but never acquired his license. His daughter, at age 8, rekindled his interest and they soon earned consecutive call signs. His even younger son and wife acquired theirs not long after.
Nick was a member of the JSC Amateur Radio Club and past president of the Clear Lake Amateur Radio Club (CLARC). Behind the scenes and with boots on the ground, he played a prominent role in supporting numerous fun runs and marathons with Ham radio/emergency communications.
Nick also taught amateur radio license classes to astronauts, the public, and intermediate school students in the CCISD (Clear Creek Independent School District). Since 1999 he helped 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 especially proud of preparing astronauts to earn their amateur radio licenses. In 2003 the Amateur Radio Relay League named Nick the Professional Educator of the Year.
When not “radio-active,” Nick enjoyed biking, traveling and nearly daily dining out with his wife, Renee, and spending time with his daughter, Erica, in Atlanta, GA, and son, Nick, in Ft. Collins, CO. He also reactivated his passion for the sport of horseshoe pitching. Nick won the New Jersey State Junior Championship in 1966 and, 35 years later, came backand joined the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. After 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 “reunion-izer”, keeping his high school friends together by maintaining e-mail lists, helping to host several NASA JSC Engineering Directorate reunions, and as 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 wore many hats and left big shoes to fill. He will be sorely missed.