Stephen presented the sections in black, Philip presented the sections in red.
Dad was born on 10th January, 1928, in the small country town of Broadford. Although history books often refer to the 1920s as the Jazz Age and a time of relative prosperity, this was more so in the USA and the major towns, rather than small country towns like Broadford. Among dad’s earliest memories were the struggles of his parents to make ends meet. One means of generating income was to take in boarders. During the 1920s the Bush Nurse, boarded with them and used the front entry way (hall) as her office. Anyone wanting to visit the nurse would knock on the front door, those visiting the family would enter by the back door. The advantage was not only monetary, they had their first telephone supplied by the Bush Nursing Association for the nurse. It was also convenient to have a nurse in the house, especially with two young children. She became a friend as well as a boarder.
|Dad’s family were Methodists, and Dad’s father remained a Methodist all his life, but his mum gradually changed over to the Salvation Army. Dad’s parents were not particularly educated, but they valued education highly. They saw education as the way to “get on”. This resulted in a number of important decisions. The Broadford school finished at form 2 (Year 8) but the Seymour school went to year 10. The education provided at Seymour was also considered to be superior. This was one of the reasons the family moved to Seymour. When he had completed his education at Seymour, the decision was taken for dad to take Form 5 (Year 11), this was an unusual decision for families of the Spencer’s social milieu. Dad travelled to the nearest school that covered year 11, Benalla. He boarded there for the week and then travelled home (at considerable expense for the family) on weekends. Later he described how uncomfortable it was being the only working class kid, amongst the sons and daughters of wealthy farmers and shop keepers.|
|Dad completed his schooling in December 1943 and so required a job. He was a good friend of the State Savings Bank manager and was offered a job interview by the manager. In his own words: “I was accepted by the Bank and started work on 4th January, 1944. I soon discovered that I had again been thrown in at the deep end. All staff, including the new Junior Clerk were expected to perform at a high standard. This included appropriate dress and behaviour. At the interview where I was informed that I had been appointed to the job, the manager commented that I had attended the interview with an open neck shirt. He informed me that, when I worked at the bank, I would be required to wear a tie with sports pants and a sports jacket. As we used pen and ink, we had coats at the bank which we would change in to when we arrived at work so that our good coats would not be soiled. These coats became more disreputable over time. The office coat was a tradition that continued into the 1960s. The dress requirement had been relaxed by wartime exigencies. Before the war, for example, all staff were required to wear a hat when travelling to and from work.”|
|Dad often performed tasks that did not come naturally to him. I remember in the early years of this corps, him arriving home from work, having a quick meal, and then heading our into the winter evening to collect for the Self Denial appeal. This went on for weeks. He did not like it but he collected as a sense of duty. Years later, when Self Denial was reorganised into the Red Shield Appeal, dad had a job that was much more to his liking – organiser of the money. Margaret tells a story from that time. She took Michelle, Beth and Cath out to collect but later could not find them. When she returned to the hall to tell Eric that she had lost three collectors, he said “don’t worry, they will turn up” but when she told him who they were his attitude changed completely and a search party was quickly organised.|
|Dad was a proud man. We did not have a car for a long time, and used to get to this hall by bike or walk. I remember one night after band practice, (when we had walked) some of the bandsmen discussing who would drive us home. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get home. So imagine my surprise when dad said, “Come on boys we are walking home.” As we walked up the path he said “I won’t be treated like a poor relation.” As we walked down Glen street, John Faulds, one of nature’s gentlemen, drove up to us and offered a drive, which dad refused. I suspect that confused John as much as me.|
|Many people have mentioned dad’s generosity. I remember quite a lot of people (mainly family members) staying with us. Dad could also be financially generous. Both Phil and I could not have bought our first cars without dad’s considerable assistance. One time when dad’s sister, our aunty Betty was staying with us she saved my bacon. Dad and Betty were talking about a book, but we couldn’t find it. I thought (wrongly) that it was in the garage and went looking for it. There was no light so I lit a piece of paper, starting a fire as a consequence. Dad was not happy, but I did not get into much trouble when Aunty Betty reminded dad that he had done a similar thing when he was my age.|
|Mum and dad were wonderful grandparents, regularly looking after our kids. For instance, Beth and Cathy, and my cousin Stephen’s girls, Elise and Stephanie, walked from Primary School to mum and dad’s house to await Stephen and me picking them up after work. Mum and Dad also looked after Phil and Judith’s kids. The stories the grandchildren have previously told us show how much they loved their grandpa and grandma.|
|In their later years mum and dad became a complimentary couple. Dad would do the physical work around the house and as dad’s memory deteriorated mum would have the role of remembering what had to be done. When mum’s stroke meant she would have to enter a nursing home dad had to go in to Colton Close with her.
In Colton Close dad visited mum twice a day and attended many events just to be with her. Once she passed away he spent most of his time in his room and began a gradual decline. He clearly missed her terribly.
He became increasingly frail, falling a number of times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip, which he never recovered from.
|Dad had a very strong faith. He talked to me many times about this. He loved the songs in the songbook and he had many favourite songs and song writers. In particular he did like benedictions. He loved singing “Praise God I’m Saved, Praise God I’m saved, All’s well, All’s Well, He sets me free”
There was also one other benediction he truly loved. Cameron and I went down to Colton Close on the Saturday, just before he went into hospital the second time to fix his chair. I am not sure whether he knew we were there but he was singing. Bill Canham visited Dad in hospital and he also sang it. Dad joined in as well. It is
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, And be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, And give thee peace.
This benediction gave him great confidence and assurance.
Dad passed away peacefully, in the afternoon of Saturday 14th March.