Cover photo for Col John Spencer USANG, Ret's Obituary
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1942 Col 2023

Col John Spencer USANG, Ret

December 8, 1942 — November 22, 2023

John Curtis Blackmon Spencer passed away peacefully in the care of his loving family on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. He was the beloved husband of Carolyn Ivey Spencer, with whom he had shared over 40 years of marriage.

John was born in Jacksonville, Florida on December 8, 1942, to Render Spencer and Rosemary (Spencer) Spires. He was the oldest of five children, and is survived by his brother Bradley Spencer (Cathy Spencer), his sister Avis Spencer Mitchell (Jim Mitchell), his sister Lea Spencer (Joe DiNicola), and his brother Elliott Spencer (deceased).

John was raised in St. Augustine, Florida, and, for 13 years, in Sendai and Honshu, Japan, where his father's military career had taken the family. He graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1962 and immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps, spending 4 years at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. "Once a Marine, Always a Marine! Oorah!"

After his honorable discharge from the Marines, John earned his B.S., his M.E., and an Ed. D. from the University of Florida in Gainesville. At this time, John was involved with the Florida Army National Guard, and completed Airborne School in 1967, then Officer Candidate School, and was a member of A/3/20 Special Forces Operations by 1970.

Following the completion of his Doctorate, John eventually became the Principal of a self-contained School for disabled adults on the campus of Sunland Center, Gainesville. He was a 10-year member of the Council for Exceptional Children, and a variety of other Associations focused on improving educational opportunities for mentally and physically challenged individuals.

In 1982, John left Education to become a full-time Logistics Officer at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia. By 1985 he had completed National Security Management training and was working in the Office of the Inspector General.

A change in duty station moved the family to Florida where John was assigned to Florida National Guard Headquarters back in St. Augustine. From here, he began Command of a start-up Brigade/Battalion in Air Defense and later became Assistant Chief of Staff for FLANG.

A move back to Washington, D.C. to begin Army War College for a year was followed by another duty assignment to complete War College in Austin, Texas at the University of Texas, where John also enjoyed teaching at the Graduate School of Business. Returning to Washington, D.C. brought many interesting challenges to his work, and John thrived on learning and teaching Conflict Management and Facilitation techniques. He authored a textbook that became part of the Army War College curriculum and always looked for ways to engage in conversations about leadership ideas.

When he retired and left the area in 2012, John held a position as the Chief, of the Office of Interagency and Intergovernmental, Directorate of Plans, Policy, and International Affairs at the National Guard Bureau. He was passionate about serving in the Military and only retired when his body began to show signs of strain with the challenges of Parkinson's Disease.

He excelled in his studies and his career. John loved his work and the people and places he traveled to. He received many awards, including the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Distinguished Service Medal.

In addition, John was a dedicated Boy Scout Leader to troops in Fairfax, Virginia for many years while his boys were growing up. He enjoyed planning trips with the Scouts and worked on countless Eagle Scout Projects. He was also a great fan of all things Harry Potter, Michael Jackson, Sean Connery, "Riverdance" and "Les Miserables". He also had a bent toward Meteorology and loved to forecast the weather for his family.

In the long run, what truly mattered to John was the love he had with his family and friends. He faced the challenges of Parkinson's Disease with the most amazing grace and continued to look for ways to stay connected and to be of service.

John is survived by his loving family, including his wife Carolyn Ivey Spencer, and sons Jamie Spencer (Cati), and Hadley Spencer (Brandy). His legacy continues through his cherished grandchildren, Izzy, Grant, and Wyatt, who brought immense joy and pride to his later years. He also leaves behind a wonderful extended family, including his sisters-in-law and their families: Susan Jones, Melanie Job (Wade), and Annie Leonard (Ina), as well as his brother-in-law Murph Ivey (Nancy) and their family.

He will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. Rest in Peace, Soldier.

A Memorial Ceremony with full Military honors will be held to celebrate John's life and service to his country. It will take place on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 1:00 P.M. at Dolly Cooper Veterans Cemetery in Anderson, S.C.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Thursday, December 21, 2023

1:00 - 1:30 pm (Eastern time)

M.J. "Dolly" Cooper Veterans Cemetery

140 Inway Drive, Anderson, SC 29621

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