Biographical Information on Richard A. Pence

25 Nov 2004

Richard Allen (Dick) Pence is known as one of the pioneers of computer genealogy. He was among the first to see the value of personal computers for genealogical recordkeeping and began organizing his records with one of the earliest of these machines in 1978.

He has written about using computers for genealogy for a wide variety of publications and spoken on this and other genealogical topic before national, state and local genealogical groups.

In 1982 he helped organize the National Genealogical Society's Computer Interest Group (NGS/CIG) and he was for several years editor of the group's newsletter. He was instrumental in helping the CIG start an electronic bulletin board and is a former sysop of the NGS/CIG BBS. He was moderator of two genealogy-related electronic message exchanges on the FidoNet amateur BBS network, which at its height of their popularity - before the advent of widespread Internet access - involved well over a thousand BBSs worldwide. In the early 1990s the message flow in one of these, the Genealogy Conference, often reached 700 a day.

The National Genealogical Society presented him its Award of Merit for his work in computer and on-line genealogy at its Conference in the States in Richmond, Va., in May of 1999. He previously had been a recipient of the Society's Distinguished Service Award (1986). In 2001, he was among the first group of "pioneers" honored by induction into the Genealogy Technology Hall of Fame by GenTech, an organization dedicated to effective use of technology in genealogical research and record keeping (see The New Pioneers.

He has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the society's Newsletter. He was co-author, with Paul Andereck, of Computer Genealogy, published by Ancestry, Inc., Salt Lake City, in 1985, and was the editor in 1991 of the revised edition of this widely used guide. He also has been a contributor to Ancestry's Genealogical Computing as well as the NGS/CIG newsletter.

After moving to the Washington, DC, area in 1967, Pence began actively pursuing his life-long interest in genealogy, with his primary interest being in the Pence family name. While amassing a database of some 12,000 pre-1920 U.S. Pences, he has published two volumes of A Guide to the Pence Families of America. He currently is working on a definitive compilation of his own branch of the Pence family.

In 1977 and 1980, his six-part series for beginners in genealogy, "Searching Your Family Tree," was syndicated to some 150 newspapers and magazines in the U.S.

Pence is a native of South Dakota and a journalism graduate of South Dakota State University, Brookings, and was a weekly newspaperman in South Dakota and Minnesota. He studied technical journalism in the graduate school at Iowa State University, Ames, for three years and was a technical publications editor there and at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, before entering the association publications field in 1961, where he has served as editor of a number of publications. He is retired as communications counsel for the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, where he was a nationally recognized authority in member and public relations projects and political action programs relating to membership organizations. He has been both a consultant and instructor on these topics throughout the nation.

In 1984, he edited The Next Greatest Thing, an extensive photo history of the first 50 years of rural electrification in the United States. More than 57,000 copies of this 256-page hard-cover book are now in print and it received a "Gold Circle" award in 1985 as the outstanding one-time association publication from the American Society of Association Executives.

He has been a frequent after-dinner speaker at meetings of rural people, where he is noted for his stories about small-town and country America. His latest book is a collection of these and other stories, Two Longs and a Short and Other Tales of the Old West, some of which have previously appeared in publications such as Country and Reminisce.

Pence and his wife, the former Lillian Llewellyn (Ellyn) Hutto, a native of Jackson, MS, and a retired general music teacher, live in the city of Fairfax, Va. Their children: Todd Monroe, a teacher in the Fairfax County schools, is a journalism and education graduate of West Virginia University and also has been a graduate student in English literature there; Robert Chandler is a cinema production graduate of Ithaca College (NY) and is currently working at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC; and Laura Llewellyn received her degree in political science at North Carolina State and lives in Lyons, Colorado, with her husband, Matthew Calvin (Matt) Larson, and their daughter Molly Bellou Larson (born in 2004). Laura works at Planet Bluegrass, an organization which promotes bluegrass and folk music festivals, including the noted one at Telluride each summer.

Special Treat When It Snows In Washington A song Ellyn wrote for her students.

OUR FAMILY At top: Laura, Todd and Ellyn. Bottom: Robert and Dick.

Oct. 10, 1998 At Laura's wedding, Lyons, CO. Standing, from left: Robert, Todd, Laura, her husband, Matt Larson, Ellyn. Seated: Dick.

Molly Bellou Larson

Grandpa and Molly

Molly and her "thing" - Mardi Gras beads.

Just released! Three photos of grandson No. 1, Calvin Pence Larson, born 19 December 2005