Attorney William Dance passes at age 92

 William Henry Dance (Bill to his friends; “Dog” to his family) died in Grosse Pointe, Mich., on Jan. 15, 2014, at age 92, after many months of declining health following a broken neck in 2012. He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 21, 1921, to Clifton and Catherine Dance. He attended Poly Prep Country Day School of Brooklyn. He was an avid and accomplished hockey and lacrosse player. As a schoolboy, he played hockey not only for Poly Prep but also for the St. Nicholas amateur team where his teammates were college graduates.

Bill attended the University of Michigan, following in his father’s and older brother’s footsteps. He joined the Psi Upsilon fraternity in Ann Arbor and was an All Big Ten hockey player on the Michigan team. His undergraduate studies were cut short when he joined the Navy in World War Two. Bill served as a lieutenant, junior grade on the USS Siboney, CVE-112, an escort carrier, in final stages of the war in the Pacific theater. His ship visited Tokyo just a few weeks after the war ended, and his observation of the destruction there influenced his pacifist and internationalist beliefs. During his Navy training duty, he attended Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He played on their lacrosse team, where he was named to the All New England team.    
Bill graduated from University of Michigan Law School in 1949.  
Bill married Elizabeth Ellen Cadwell — Betsy — of Grosse Pointe, on his birthday in 1950.  He practiced intellectual property law in New York, then he and his wife spent some time in Paris, where he worked as a security guard at the United Nations and wrote short stories. They returned to the United States and settled in Grosse Pointe in the early fifties to start a family.  
Bill began a general law practice, pursuing his interest in international and admiralty law and representing the Government of France for many years, founding the Alliance Francaise of Detroit and ultimately being honored as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France for his service. He blossomed as an immigration and naturalization lawyer in the 1970s. He founded the Detroit chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, serving as its president and as a board member of the national organization. He was also active in the international law sections of the State Bar of Michigan and the Detroit Bar Association. He taught immigration law for many years at Wayne State University Law School and at the former Detroit College of Law. He wrote a number of articles and then a weekly column on immigration law for the Detroit Legal News. He practiced law until he was 90 when his neck injury made it impossible to continue.  He particularly loved representing pro bono clients seeking political asylum. He received many awards and honors for his work in immigration law.  
Bill and his wife Betsy traveled to France and to Haiti as often as they could. He was an enthusiastic champion of the Haitian people throughout their ordeals. He and Betsy loved listening to Dixieland jazz. He played the trumpet.
Bill was a trustee at University Liggett School, attended by all three of his children, and of the William L. Clements Library of American History and Culture at the University of Michigan. He was predeceased by his beloved Betsy, who died in 1993. He is survived by his remaining brother, F. Esburn Dance, and his three children, Elizabeth, Theodore, and William, and by his three grandchildren, Olivia, William, and Sarah, who refer to him as their Grand Dog. A Memorial Service will take place at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, 16 Lake Shore Rd., Grosse Pointe Farms. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Sigma Gamma Foundation Treasurer, Sigma Gamma Foundation, PO Box 36373, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236. Share a memory at