June 27, 2022

Main Content

In Memoriam: Dr. Ralph Vance

Published on Monday, June 27, 2022

The Medical Center extends its sympathy to the family of a former faculty member in appreciation for the loved one’s contributions to the academic health sciences center.

Dr. Ralph Vance


Dr. Ralph B. Vance Sr., professor emeritus of hematology/oncology at UMMC and a powerful champion in the fight to defeat and prevent cancer, died Saturday at his home in Oxford. He was 76.

Vance, who grew up in Jackson. was part of the Medical Center for more than 40 years. He graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1968, the year he entered medical school at UMMC. He earned his medical degree in 1972, then completed a residency in internal medicine at the Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in oncology.

He then became a member of faculty, retiring after decades of service to his patients and UMMC.

Vance was a fellow of the American College of Physicians and served as president of the American Cancer Society from 2003 to 2004. He helped found the the American Cancer Society Gertrude C. Ford Hope Lodge in Jackson, where families and caregivers of cancer patients are able to stay for free.

“I doubt that we would have an ACS Hope Lodge in Jackson without him,” wrote Dr. Roy J. Duhe in a Facebook post honoring Vance.  “I doubt that we would have recruited the amazing Dr. Deirdre Rogers to transform the Mississippi Cancer Registry into the premier organization that it is today. Without him, I seriously doubt we would have ever tried to create a cancer center at the UMMC,” wrote Duhe, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, and professor of radiation oncology at UMMC.

“Ralph was also a passionate champion of smoking prevention and tobacco cessation. I remember asking him, many years ago, if he could wave a magic wand to accomplish one thing to win the war on cancer, and he answered without hesitation. He would have everyone stop smoking. And he was right about that.”

After retiring, Vance and his wife, Mary Douglas Allen Vance, moved to Oxford, where he became president of the Oxford Film Festival, a member of the board of directors of Thacker Mountain Radio, and president of the J.D. Williams Library Board.

“Dr. Ralph Vance was many things to many people,” Duhe wrote. “First and foremost, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He was a compassionate oncologist, a wise teacher, a tireless advocate, a true southern gentleman, and a handsome charmer. I will miss the way that his rich baritone voice would fill the room, and I hope that sound will resonate in my memory for the rest of my life.

“Rest in peace, Dr. Vance.”

A service in Vance’s honor will be held at noon today at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford.

Memorials honoring Vance may be made to the Baddour Center, P. O. Box 97, Senatobia, MS 38668 or to St. Peter's Episcopal Church Capital Development Fund, 113 South Ninth Street, Oxford, MS 38655.