Born in Boone Oklahoma on May 12, 1923, LaVern Nance was the oldest of eight children. The slow talking, ambitious young man went to work at age 15 when his father died. He drifted around the Southwest working as a laborer, spending 14 hours a day in the hot fields picking cotton by hand.
Shortly after marriage, Nance put down his cotton picking bag and hitch hiked to Wichita, Kansas. The Aviation Capital of the World, thinking anything would be better than the back breaking days in the searing Oklahoma cotton fields.
The Second World War was on and he managed to sign on with Beech Aircraft building aircraft parts for the defense effort. Soon he was appointed foreman over forty women riveters. His firm yet easy going manner eventually landed him a lucrative plant superintendent job over seeing 800 workers.
Financially successful, yet restless for some new challenge, Nance quit his job and launched his own small business (Nance Machine and Paint Company) with partner Marvell in 1950, fabricating glider seats and painting parts.