Lance Funston (’67)

Lance Funston, entrepreneur and philanthropist passes at 80. On July 5th, 2023. Lance Thomas Funston of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and Villefranche-sur-Mer, France passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving wife, Christina and his six children. A successful entrepreneur, media mogul, avid golfer, Olympian, poker enthusiast and artist. Lance was a true renaissance man–his plethora of diverse interests, achievements and zest for life often granting him the title, “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Lance was born in 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was raised by his devoted parents Ida Paschall Hill and Harold Mitchell Funston. Lance graduated in 1961 from Milby High School in Houston, Texas. Lance received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston in 1967, where he would later sit on the Board of Visitors. In 2009, Lance made a gift to his alma mater that allowed for the construction of the Lance T. Funston Communication Center, a state-of-the-art production studio within the Valenti School of Communication. In 1967, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Lance assistant to the director of the FDIC and subsequently as special assistant to a governor of the Federal Reserve Board. In 1968, Lance moved to Boston to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School which he received in 1970. It soon became clear that Lance possessed an untamable entrepreneurial spirit. In the midst of confronting the rigors of Harvard academics, he formed Portfolio Management Systems, which developed management systems for major financial institutions such as Fidelity Mutual and Bank of America. The company later created a private equity real-estate fund, which proved to be the start of a successful real-estate development career, marked by creativity and a unique vision. In 1986 Lance moved to Philadelphia and founded a merchant banking firm which specialized in leveraged buyouts. Of his most notable acquisitions was Larami Toys, where Lance was the marketing genius behind the remarkable Super Soaker. The 1990’s saw the addition of media to Lance’s already diverse repertoire. In 1993 he founded TelAmerica Media, a media aggregate representing over 90% of the cable television industry. Pursuing his dream of competing in sport at an elite level, Lance joined the American Samoan Bobsled team. He proudly served as a driver throughout the World Cup circuit and as first alternate at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. He also served on the board of the United States Bobsled Federation from 1992 to 1996. In 2000, Lance married Christina Husianycia of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, and relocated to the suburbs to raise their two daughters. In 2007, the couple founded the Save A Mind Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers financial aid to youth in Philadelphia’s charter school system. Lance was dedicated to his passions–Bible study, golfing, car remodeling, acting, abstract painting, and professional poker, to name a few. In 2005 Lance, a complete rookie at the time, played in the World Series of Poker Main Event–nearly winning a major tournament live on ESPN. His love-affair with the game, combined with his passion for philanthropy, led him to establish Poker Players with a Heart, a foundation organizing tournaments in which all proceeds were donated. A true visionary, a problem solver, a “larger than life” individual who emanated charisma, wit, and compassion. Lance was an adventurer, a lover of nature and travel, and an adoring father and beloved grandfather. He wholeheartedly believed in others and instilled a sense of self-worth in every soul he touched. His unconditional love, affection, philanthropic spirit and by living life always to the fullest, he will be remembered by all for generations. Lance and Christina spent summers in Villefranche-sur-Mer, France where he experienced the utmost happiness and peace. Lance is survived by his wife, Christina and their daughters Zale and Quinn, his children, Lance “Will” (Kitty), Heather, Brent (Melissa), Blake (Rufus), five grandchildren, two brothers, nieces and nephews. Lance is preceded in death by his parents Ida and Harold, brother Christopher, aunt and uncle Evelyn and Jerry Jackson, and granddaughter, Luciana. A Memorial Service will take place in Narberth, PA in the Fall of 2023. Details to follow. In remembrance of Lance’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to the following organizations: Narberth Presbyterian Church, 205 Grayling Avenue, Narberth, PA 19072 or Philadelphia Museum of Art, Attn.: Gift Processor, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646 (Click Donate, choose Tribute and Memorial gifts in memory of Lance Funston).
Published by The Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 2, 2023.

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