Thomas Grady Spires ’50

Thomas Grady Spires '50

Thomas Grady Spires, known to all simply as “Grady,” passed into glory peacefully at the age of 91 years on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at The Residence at Riverbend in Ipswich.

In his final days, he was surrounded by family, who rejoice that Grady has gone home to be with the Savior that he loved so dearly and served faithfully his entire life. 

Grady was born in Miami, Florida, on June 6, 1928 to Alfred Clinton Spires and Mildred Evans Spires, the third of five siblings, the late Evans Spires, the late Clinton Spires, Eunice (Spires) Hoffman, and Mary (Spires) Rynd.

He met his wife, Marian Elizabeth White, of Schenectady, NY, at Penial Bible Conference, and were married on May 23, 1953. Later, after Marian’s death, Grady remarried to Catharina Swart of Beverly, on June 2, 2005. 

Grady graduated from Miami High School in 1946, then from Davidson College with an A.B. in 1950, then went on to study under eminent Reformed philosopher Cornelius van Til, earning a bachelor’s degree in Divinity from Westminster Seminary in 1953.

After Westminster, he moved to Boston, completing a Masters in Sacred Theology at Harvard Divinity School, and continued on in pursuit of a PhD, with graduate work at Free University of Amsterdam.

While in his doctorate program, he felt called to teaching in Christian higher education and started as a Professor of Philosophy at Gordon College in 1956. 

Grady continued to teach at Gordon for the next 42 years, becoming a beloved fixture at the school until his retirement in 1998. His roles at Gordon included not only professor but also department chair, academic advisor, faculty senate chair, professor for European Seminar, visiting professor at Daystar University in Kenya and much more; twice he was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1969, then again in 1998).

During his tenure at Gordon, he wrote a significant portion of his doctoral thesis – inspired by Dutch Reformed philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd – but tragically lost the thesis in an office fire at the college.

On May 26, 2005, Grady was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Westminster Seminary, honoring his incredible contributions to his field and his tenacious efforts to obtain his doctorate. 

Grady was known for his incredible warmth, his genuine joy, his vivacious smile and greeting, his infectious interest in all things philosophical and theological, his intellectual curiosity, and his well-grounded character and faith.

He was a true Renaissance man, often performing his famous “bottle-cap tap dance” at faculty talent shows, acting in many theatrical productions – both at Gordon and beyond – and singing and playing jazzy piano long into his older years, including for the residents of his retirement community.

He stayed active until well into his older years and he spoke Dutch, German, and also knew Greek and Hebrew as a result of his theological studies. 

Outside of life at Gordon, Grady was a founding elder of First Presbyterian Church North Shore, in Ipswich, where he served faithfully as an elder for many years and was an integral part of church life for over six decades.

He taught at Peniel Bible Conference – the place he met his wife Marian, a camp named after the place where Jacob encountered God in the Old Testament – in upstate New York for many summers, also becoming an indispensable part of that community.

He also gave his time to the C.S. Lewis Foundation, where he was a founding trustee, working to preserve Lewis’ legacy and his estate in England. 

Finally, Grady was a loving husband, father, and grandfather as well. He is preceded by his first wife, Marion (White) Spires, and survived by his second wife, Catharina (Swart) Spires.

He is also survived by his four children and their spouses: Karen (Spires) and John Capps of Flagstaff, AZ, Jo-Alice (Spires) and Ken Stockwell, of Danvers, Cindy (Spires) and Frank Purdy, of Hamilton, and Thomas Spires of Amesbury; 11 grandchildren, Krista, Nicole, Allison, Kayla, John Michael, Janel, Sarah, Josiah, Jennifer, Johanna, Jonathan and six great-grandchildren, Talia, Emmett, Lucas, Wyatt, Selah, and Rowan. 

A memorial service for Grady will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 2 pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 179 County Road, Ipswich. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.

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William League Spencer ’70

William League Spencer, age 71, died peacefully in his sleep Saturday, August 24, 2019, at his home in Raleigh. Bill was born August 8, 1948, in Jackson, Mississippi to Dr. James L. and Frances League Spencer.

He graduated from high school in Charleston, SC in 1966 and from Davidson College in 1970. After 5 years of active duty in the U.S. Navy, Bill earned a master’s degree in public policy at Ole Miss, and worked with the PEER committee of the MS legislature until he moved to CA to attend the RAND Graduate School.

After earning a second master’s degree there, he accepted a position with the North Carolina Department of Revenue in 1997 where he remained until his retirement in 2012.

Bill enjoyed family, reading, enthusiastically following his favorite college sports teams, and playing competitive trivia with a group of Raleigh area friends.

Bill is survived by his brother Jim Spencer of Brevard, NC, sister Ellen Johnson of Pickens County, SC, their spouses, numerous nieces and nephews, and by his aunt Elizabeth Spencer Rusher of Chapel Hill, NC.

A memorial service will be held at the Carlton Gray Funeral Home in Raleigh at 12:00 noon Saturday, September 7, 2019. Visitation will precede the service beginning at 11:30.

Copyright (c) 2019 The News and Observer

Thomas Wilson Warlick ’56

Thomas Wilson Warlick '56

Thomas Wilson Warlick, 85, a Newton attorney and prominent cultural, civic, historical, and educational leader on both the local and state level, died on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, after a brief illness.

Funeral services will be conducted at 2:00 p.m., on Friday, August 23, 2019, at Newton First Presbyterian Church by the pastor, the Rev. Dr. David A. Roquemore. The family will receive friends in the church social hall following the service. There will be a private interment in the family plot at Eastview Cemetery.

Warlick was born in Newton on July 4, 1934, the son of the late Wilson Warlick, for many years a federal judge overseeing US courts in the Western North Carolina District, and the late Kittie Reed Hipp Warlick.

He is survived by a sister, Martha Reed Warlick Brame of Rockville MD., and a niece, Brandon Brame Fortune of Bethesda MD, as well as grandnieces Martha Fortune and Elizabeth Fortune and one great grandnephew, Leo Frankenberger.

In 1999 Warlick was the recipient of the North Carolina Governor’s Award in the Arts and Humanities, presented during a ceremony in Raleigh by Governor James B. Hunt. In 2002 he was the recipient of the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, bestowed by Governor Michael Easley. Warlick was a Colonel in the United States Army Reserve. He served as attorney for the Town of Catawba from 1985 through 2003. He was chairman and is currently treasurer of the Newton Conover Auditorium Authority and was vice-chairman from 1995 to the present of the Newton Depot Authority.

He was also on the North Carolina Rail Council from 1994 to 2004. Warlick was chairman, vice chairman and director of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation (formerly Catawba County Industrial Development Commission).

He is a former president, vice president, and director of the Catawba County United Way. He was president, vice president, treasurer, and trustee of the Historical Association of Catawba County (formerly Catawba County Historical Association) where he served as a trustee for 40 years. He served on the Newton Old Soldiers Reunion committee for many years. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

As a life-long member of First Presbyterian Church of Newton he was an elder and had been treasurer, a deacon and served on the Campaign Steering Committee and the Building Committee for the new sanctuary. He particularly enjoyed serving on the Organ Committee. He had been a director of the Catawba County Chapter of The American Red Cross.

He was president and a director of the Newton-Conover Jaycees and was recipient of the Distinguished Service Award (Outstanding Young Man of the Year) for 1968, presented by the Newton-Conover Jaycees. With a perfect attendance for 56 years record of the Newton-Conover Rotary Club, he served as president, vice president, secretary, and director of the organization. He is the recipient of the Rotary Club Vocational Service Award and the Dr. William T. MacLauchlin Humanities Award. Warlick was a member of the Board of the Directors of the Alexander Railroad Company.

He has been a director and was now a director emeritus of Sipes Orchard Home. He has been chairman, vice-chairman, and a trustee of the Catawba County Library Board of Trustees. He has been the second vice-chairman of the Catawba County Democratic Executive Committee and was president and treasurer of the Catawba County Young Democratic Club. Warlick was a former president, secretary and vice president of the Catawba County Bar Association and has been director and secretary of the Twenty-fifth District Bar Association.

He holds the Bachelor of Science degree from Davidson College, where he was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa, and the Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was in the Order of the Coif. He was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar and the United States District Court in 1959.

The family requests that any memorials may be given to Newton Depot Authority, P.O. Box 611, Newton, NC, 28658.

Ava Spencer, Former First Lady of Davidson College

Ava Spencer, Former First Lady of Davidson College

Ava Clayton Clark Spencer of Davidson, N.C., beloved wife and steadfast partner of the late Samuel R. Spencer Jr., died on August 20, 2019. She was 94 years old.

A woman of extraordinary intellect and broad education, Ava was one of the seven children of Dr. Frank E. Clark and Ava Clark. She was born on February 25, 1925, in Grundy, Virginia, where her father, a Presbyterian minister, served as a “domestic missionary” in this rural area, founding the Presbyterian School for local children.

Her father’s work as a minister and her mother’s as a teacher instilled in Ava a profound sense of the value of education. Always a brilliant student, she completed high school at age 15 and entered Virginia Intermont College before transferring to Mary Washington College.

In May of 1944, after graduating from Mary Washington, Ava began working at Oak Ridge, Tenn., as staff support for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret development of the atomic bomb that ended World War II.

Then came two years of graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where Ava was the first woman to teach a course at the Wharton School, as an instructor in political science. Her studies at Penn led to a one-year visiting fellowship in the Government Department at Harvard. That’s when a chance meeting changed the course of her life.

At a tea hosted by the Harvard Presbyterian Chaplain in February 1948, Ava met Sam Spencer, a World War II veteran in Army Intelligence who attended Harvard on the GI bill and completed his doctorate in American Social History. After their first date, a lecture by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Sam told his roommate to start looking for someone new to share quarters.

“Why?” the roommate asked.

“Because I just met the girl I’m going to marry,” Sam said.

On August 28, 1948, Ava and Sam Spencer were married in Abingdon. They spent the next 65 years together, until Sam’s death on October 16, 2013.

That marriage also meant a choice for Ava, who turned down a fellowship to study the nature of radical politics in Chile in pursuit of her Ph.D.

After the birth of their first son, Samuel Reid Spencer III, in April of 1950, Sam and Ava moved to Davidson, where Sam served as assistant to President John Cunningham and later as Dean of Students. Their early years together in Davidson brought the addition of daughters Ellen Blakeney Spencer and Ava Clayton Spencer.

In 1957, they moved to Staunton, Virginia, where Sam served as President of Mary Baldwin College until 1968. Years later, Mary Baldwin dedicated the Samuel & Ava Spencer Center for Civic & Global Engagement, aptly recognizing Ava’s role in a partnership that helped elevate the stature of the small women’s college in the Valley of Virginia.

A second son, Frank Clark Spencer, was born in September of 1960. During the summers of their tenure at Mary Baldwin, Sam and Ava regularly led Brownell Tours of college students to Europe, including their own children in the exposure to different countries and cultures.

In 1968. Sam and Ava and their children returned to Davidson, where Sam served as president for 15 years, with Ava as the consummate partner in the intellectual life of the college and the architect of the warm and generous hospitality of the President’s House.

In 1983 their journey together took them to Richmond and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and ultimately back to Davidson in 1988, first to a house on Lorimer Road—the same street on which they lived when they first came to Davidson in 1951—and finally to The Pines, the retirement home they had helped to found years earlier.

In 2009, a gift to Davidson from close friends Marcus and Carole Weinstein established the Spencer-Weinstein Center for Community and Justice, honoring the service, leadership, and generosity of both couples.

The marriage of Ava and Sam Spencer was the essence of unwavering love and respect, a perfect blend of two human beings ideally suited to each other. Straightforward and practical on the one hand, Ava also possessed a ready wit and a mischievous sense of humor. But her special gifts were the kindness and love she gave freely to any willing recipient.

After Sam’s death in 2013, Ava lived with determined independence, remarkable courage and unquenchable spirit until her own passing in August.

Ava is survived by children Samuel Reid Spencer III (Candice), Ellen Henschen (Gary), Clayton Spencer and Frank Spencer (Melanie); grandchildren Samuel Reid IV and James Spencer, Josef (Susan), Sam and Elizabeth Henschen, Will (Mariah) and Ava Carter, Aly Spencer (Brian Zakutansky) and Clark Spencer (Jenifer); great-grandchildren Spencer Henschen and Sam Zakutansky.

Ava Spencer was pre-deceased by husband Sam Spencer; brothers Frank Clark and Blake Clark; and sisters Caroline Stuart, Margaret Tiffany, Katherine Clark, and Eloise Clark.

A service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, at Davidson College Presbyterian Church.

Memorial gifts may be made to the following:

Spencer-Weinstein Center for Community and Justice
Davidson College
Box 7170
Davidson NC 28035-7170

Clark Scholars
Union Presbyterian Seminary
3401 Brook Rd.
Richmond VA 23227

Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement
Mary Baldwin University
PO Box 1500
Staunton VA 24402

Mount David Named Scholars
In memory of Sam and Ava Spencer
c/o Sarah Pearson
Bates College
2 Andrews Road
Lewiston, ME 04240

Harold Lee Riley III ’55

Harold Lee Riley III '55

Dr. Harold Lee Riley III graduated from this earthly life to be with Jesus in Heaven on August 14, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.

Harold was born in Richmond, Va., on September 2, 1933, to Dr. Harold L. Riley Jr. and Josephine Noel Riley, but raised in Lynchburg, Va., with his four younger siblings, Pat, Bill, Mary Jo, and Dave.

After graduating from E.C. Glass, he went on to receive his B.S. from Davidson College in 1955. He then fulfilled his dream of becoming a doctor with a medical doctorate degree from the University of Virginia in 1959.

After his medical internship at the University of Alabama, his residency at UVA, and his service at the USAF Hospital on the Wright Patterson Air Force Base, he and his wife settled in their hometown of Lynchburg, Va. He established his medical practice in 1966 as the first neurologist west of Richmond in the state of Virginia.

As an active member of First Presbyterian Church for many years and a recent member of Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Harold was a deacon, elder, and served on many committees, but his passion was missions. Harold had a concern for others and a sense of adventure which lead to his first short term missions’ trip to Zaire in 1979. This trip was just the start as he traveled to many countries often with his wife, Barbara, by his side.

In the last 15 years, as a member of the missions committee at First Presbyterian Church, he promoted and organized many trips to Malawi where he had friends and connections in order to inspire others to reach out to those in desperate need. The missions program to Malawi lives on today as his legacy to a country he loved. Harold enjoyed people and a gathering of almost any type.

Whether it was his participation in the Lynchburg Rotary or one of his two men’s Bible Studies, the yearly family beach trip, a grandchild’s graduation, or lunch with a friend, he was always ready to fellowship. He loved and cherished no one as much as his wife, Barbara, and their marriage has been an example of unconditional love. His brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild benefitted from his Christ-like selflessness and strength that was consistent throughout his life.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara Keefer Riley; his two daughters, Barbara Riley Westbrook (Kevinn Pulford) and Laura Riley Bridges (James); his son, Stephen Lee Riley (Delisa); ten grandchildren, Paul Riley, Daniel Riley, Michael Riley, Jana Riley, Kendra Bridges, Riley Bridges, Bryson Bridges, Matthew Pulford, Ryan Pulford, and Connor Pulford: and one great-grandchild, Judah Stephen Riley.

He is also survived by his brothers and sisters, Pat Blackburn (Jim), William Riley (Priss), Mary Jo Thompson (Evan), and David Riley.

The family will receive friends on Sunday, August 18, 2019, from 6 until 8 p.m. at Tharp Funeral Home in Lynchburg. On Monday, August 19, 2019, at 1 p.m., the family will receive friends at Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 2424 Rivermont Avenue, Lynchburg, VA 24503, with the memorial service beginning at 2 pm.

Following the service, everyone is invited for a short Graveside Service in Spring Hill Cemetery. Tharp Funeral Home and Crematory of Lynchburg is assisting the family.

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