James C. Spence Jr.

James C. Spence Jr.

James C. Spence Jr., 91


            HARWICH PORT - James C. Spence passed away on Thursday, July 28, 2016, at Cape Cod Hospital following a major stroke.

            He was the husband of the late Doris Anderson Spence, who passed away in 2012.

Jim was born in Chicago, Ill., on Aug. 10, 1924. The son of Miriam and James C. Spence Sr., he spent his childhood in Chicago along with his sisters, Nancy and Jean, and graduated from Morgan Park Military Academy in 1942.

            In 1943 Jim entered the Navy and was stationed at Farragut, Idaho.  While in the Navy he attended college at the Citadel and the University of Idaho, followed by Midshipmen's School at Cornell University where he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve.  He then served as an engineering officer on an LST, which was anchored in San Francisco.  Following his years in the service, Jim graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1949 with a degree in civil engineering.

Jim married Doris Anderson on Sept. 17, 1949, and started his career as an engineer with the Peoples Gas Light and Coke Co. in Chicago. They lived in Homewood, Ill., where they welcomed their two sons, Thomas in 1952 and David in 1954.


            In 1956 the family relocated to New York, where Jim had accepted a new position.  They lived briefly in Bronxville, N.Y., then settled in Montvale, N.J.  In 1957 their daughter Nancy was born and Jim began working for the American Iron and Steel Institute, where he remained until his retirement as an assistant vice president in 1986.  The family lived in Montvale until 1974 when Jim's company transferred him to the Washington, D.C., office and they moved to Vienna, Va.

The family had started to visit the Cape on yearly vacations in the late 1950s and when Jim retired in 1986 he and Doris moved to Chatham where they had owned a home for several years. They lived in Chatham until 2012 when they moved to the Melrose in Harwich Port where they enjoyed making many new friends.

            Throughout his life, Jim volunteered in many capacities.  He was active in the Boy Scouts in his youth and continued his interest when his two sons were Scouts, serving as a Scoutmaster of their troop.  In Chatham, he was an active volunteer with the Council on Aging, helping to start their Computers for Seniors program among other projects.  He also volunteered at the Chatham Railroad Museum, serving on their committee for many years and served as the treasurer of the First Congregational Church of Chatham. In 1998 he was chosen as Chatham's Senior Citizen of the Year in recognition for all his volunteer work at the Council on Aging and in the community.

Jim had many hobbies and interests, including model railroading, woodworking, wood carving, gardening, tennis, golf and he was an avid reader and history buff.  He and Doris enjoyed traveling and took many walking tours in various countries in the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand. As a co-founder and member of the Cape Cod Garden Railway Society, he enjoyed helping to set up their exhibit for First Night Chatham for many years along with maintaining his own back yard garden layout.

Jim leaves behind a daughter, Nancy Knepper and her husband Butch of Chatham; and two sons, Thomas Spence of Bourne, and David Spence and his wife Sherry of Seeley Lake, Mont.  He is also survived by a sister, Nancy Henneberger and her husband John of Fort Myers Beach, Fla.; and three grandchildren, James A. Spence of Seattle, Wash., Dr. Megan Spence of Decatur, Ga., and Alison Spence of Cheshire, Conn.

            Jim will be remembered as a loving husband, devoted father and good friend to many. He will also be remembered for his positive outlook on life and great sense of humor.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept.  10, at the First Congregational Church of Chatham.

            In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Chatham Railroad Museum or to a charity of your choice.