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April 5, 2014

Dr. James Byron Spencer

Dr. James Byron Spencer, 84, of Lynchburg and Lexington, Va., 84, died on Dec. 10. Private burial arrangements will have him interred in the family plot in Thomasville. Spencer, with a strong interest in education, held four earned degrees: BA, MA, BD and PhD — University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He was responsible for the founding and naming of St. Andrews-On-The-Marsh Day School at Savannah, where the science lab honors his name. He served on the sessional committee developing Macon's First Presbyterian Day School, was Professor of English and Humanities at the Marion Institute, Marion, Ala., headmaster of Randolph Southern, Shellman, Ga., Professor at Meadows Business College, Albany, Senior Counselor at Turner Job Corps Center [U. S. Dept. of Labor] and representative of The U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Georgia. After serving a student internship in Oklahoma, he graduated summa cum laude from Columbia Seminary and was ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S., where he was Associate Minister of First Presbyterian Church at Thomasville, and Dawes and Dillon Churches, Associate Minister of First Presbyterian Church at Macon, Minister of The Marion Presbyterian Church, Marion, Ala., Minister of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, the Dawson Presbyterian Church and three times represented his presbytery as commissioner to the General Assemble of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. While he ministered in Savannah, he was a member of the Historic Foundation, Rotary Club (later president of Dawson Rotary), board member of the philanthropic Hodge Foundation, board member of Hospice and of Goodwill Industries, established Point Pleasant Day Camp, Talahi Island, sole minister on the committee developing the Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church and instigated the project incorporating the original marble pilasters of the Savannah Presbyterian Church (1755) in the facade facing Chippewa Square, as well as initiating the "Kirkin' o' the Tartan" for Savannah. He helped in the development of the presbytery's Hilton Head Property. In retirement, he was one of the first ministers serving Flint River's Larger Parish. For 10 years, he was employed by H & L trucking firm at its CE Minerals-Mulcoa site in Andersonville, Ga. His residence was in Dawson, Ga. Treasured were his memorial prayers, often requested after a death, personal and uplifting with remembered anecdotes, capturing the true spirit of the loved one. An avid gardener, he was especially fond of pruning and his car trunk was never without various loppers. He could cut a bush back to nothing, only to reveal a full-flowering beauty the next year. He could be found in friends', neighbors' and church members' yards pruning, just to be working and helping people beautify their landscapes. Time he spent with church members, their families and loved ones has been cherished for years. The numbers of people he cared for and ministered to are innumerable. A selfless man, his life was dedicated to those he served in his numerous congregations. He was preceded in death by his wife, "Duchess" (Vivian Williams Spencer); and son, Byron (James Byron Spencer, Jr.). He is survived by a daughter, Ellen Bowers Spencer, of Austin, Texas; and five of his 11 sisters and brothers. Special appreciation is given to Arnold Hammack, of Albany, Susie and Gary McGahee and Bobbie Willis, of Cairo, and Barbara Curran, Hal and Jackie Wiggins, of Dawson. Grateful thanks to Nancy Gorman and the great people at CareMinders Home Care of Austin, Texas, especially our devoted Mercy. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the memorial funds of Cairo (Georgia) Presbyterian Church or Dawes (Georgia) Presbyterian Church. Memorial services are pending. — Heart of Texas Cremation and Burial Service, Austin, Texas

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