William Spence Sr.

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 1, 2010

PASS CHRISTIAN — Services for William “Bill” Gaston Spence Sr., 91, of Pass Christian, who passed away peacefully at his home in Long Beach on Thursday, July 29, 2010, will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday at Holy Family Parish of Pass Christian.

Burial will follow at Biloxi National Cemetery under the direction of Riemann Family Funeral Home of Long Beach.

Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a Rosary held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home, and from 11:30 a.m. until time of service Friday.

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Mr. Spence was born on September 3, 1918, in Pass Christian. in his family home on the beach. He was the third of seven children and was preceded by one sister and one brother later to be followed by three more sisters and another brother.

He attended elementary school at Hattiesburg Sacred Heart, junior high and high school at Ellisville and graduated in 1936.

After high school he attended Jones County Junior College from 1937-1938 then transferred to LSU to run track.  He was injured while running track and went to work for the Army Corp of Engineers on the Great Lakes. In 1940-1941 he attended Mississippi College in Clinton, where he majored in Chemistry.  He played football and ran track.  In 1942 he volunteered for military service in the Navy. He was commissioned as a Naval aviator and later in his military service, continued as a Naval Air Traffic Controller.  On Christmas Eve in 1945, he returned to his home in Jackson after being honorably discharged from the Navy. In 1946, Spence enrolled in medical school at Louisiana State University but was unable to complete his studies at LSU.   He later transferred to Milsaps College to continue his education.   While at Milsaps College, he was employed with Filtrol Corporation as an Analyst of Chemistry.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1947 then worked as an analyst of water pollution for the State of Mississippi Game and Fish commission.

In 1964, his career changed directions and he began his work in the oil and gas industry. He moved to Natchez and assumed a leadership position with Moran Tank Company for ten years.  He continued to make his home in Natchez working for Cliff Mock Company in Natchez and transferred to Ellisville in Jones County in January 1974.

He retired in 1990 and moved back to his beloved Pass Christian in 1994 and resided on Johnson Bayou until August 2005.  During his retirement, he enjoyed family and friends visiting, fishing, crabbing, wild life watching from his front porch overlooking the marshlands and bayou.

He was an excellent cook and entertained hundreds of family and friends for fellowship and first class meals, especially during the holiday seasons.  Who could ever forget his seafood gumbo, smoked chicken, fruit salad or shrimp dip he shared with his family and friends over the many years.

Spence was known to all as a dedicated family man.  He could always be counted on by anyone who knew him as a man of integrity, honesty and as a provider.

Spence loved his Catholic faith that his mother gave him as a gift out of her love for him as a young man.  He cherished this great gift of faith and shared this gift of faith with any and all who would accept his gift.

His faith was his top priority followed secondly by his devotion to his family.

Spence served in various ministries in several Catholic Parishes and is an “honorary for life “member in the Knights of Columbus, 4th degree.

He was known as Dad, Pop, PaPaw, Mr. Bill and to most of us Weedy Spence or Uncle Weedy.

Spence was preceded in death by his father, Harry Budding Spence, Sr. and his mother, Marguerite Simpson Spence, brother, Harry Budding Spence, Jr., sisters, Mary Agnes Spence and Annette Julie Spence and a son, James M.  “Jim” Spence.

He is survived by his brother, Dr. Charles Sonny (Garnett) Spence; and sisters, Marguerite (Tookie) Moran and Janie (Bud) Lang; sons, William G. “Bill” (Catherine) Spence jr. of Pass Chrisitan, Richard (Cheryl) Spence of Brookhaven, MS., Charles  Spence of Prairieville, La., and Joseph (Melinda) Spence of Long Beach; daughters, Judy (Buddy) Beard of Baton Rouge, Jan Spence of Mobile, Ala. and DJ Drury of Peridio Key, Fla. His grandchildren are Lance Spence, Ryan Spence, Adam Spence, Katie Spence Pugh, Craig Spence, Patrick Spence, Maggie Spence, Kimberly Jones, Kelly Chandler, Joshua Norris, Thomas Norris, Eric Spence, Amanda Spence, Christopher Niehaus, Bradley Niehaus, Halyley Niehaus and David M. Spence. He also leaves to cherish 18 great grandchildren and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. He is also survived by his pet, Choco-who shared his birthday with him and would stay beside him when he said his daily rosary.  His other pet-Nyla (deceased) who slept with him during the day before she passed in 2009.

The family would like to thank Dr. Richard Tilley, Dr. Fred Pakron, Dr. Don Benefield, Dr. Craig Dawkins,  Dr. Robert Wessler, Dr. Mullens, Dr. Robert Ross  and staff for their years of caring and friendship as well as Camellia Hospice and staff with special appreciation to his nurse, Debby Dubuission.  The excellent medical care you all provided kept him alive and in our lives for all these wonderful years.

The family request that memorials be made to the Youth Program, C/O Craig Spence, Youth Minister, at Holy Family Parish, 22342 Evangeline Drive, Pass Christian, MS. 39571.