The Virginian-Pilot, Thursday, Jul. 14, 2005
Robert Lee Spear Jr. passed away July 12, 2005. He was one of the first babies born in Portsmouth in 1935. He was the widower of Delores J. Spear formerly of Huntingdon, Pa.
Bob is survived by his daughter, Debbie Gaffos and her husband James; a son, Robert Lee Spear III, a sister, Joan Spear Spunzo; and two grandchildren, Christina and Eian Gaffos.
He was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and retired from the U.S. Army National Guard as a staff sergeant with the 29th Infantry Division, 3/111 Artillery, Headquarters Battery, Portsmouth.
Bob was a 1953 graduate of Cradock High School. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Class of 1957. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and an old Hokie. He was a member of the Cradock Presbyterian Church, Portsmouth Naval Lodge and a 32nd Degree Mason Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
Bob belonged to the Norfolk Boat Club and was a member of the Catholic Club. He was a deputy sheriff for the city of Portsmouth and worked in court security.
He liked a good cigar and good bourbon along with a quote from Rudyard Kipling’s "Gunga Din," "standing on hot coals giving drinks to poor damned souls, An I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!"
A funeral was held in Loving Funeral Home, Churchland Chapel, by the Rev. John Ashenfelder. Burial was in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens with military honors.
A Report of The Funeral
The Class of 1953 lost a winner this week.
The temperature at the gravesite of Bobby Spear, Monday, July 18, 2005 was a hotter hell than Kipling knew when he penned the lines Gunga Din that Bobby liked to quote:, “Givin' drink to poor damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!” The thermometer was near 90, the humidity was over ninety, and the sun was beaming its mid summer, late morning rays to attack us.
The ceremonies for Bob at Loving’s Funeral Home and later at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens were attended by 135 mourners; family, friends, schoolmates and working acquaintances from a seventy-year life of success and good will. He was well known and liked in our community. Bob was an alumnus of VPI, Class of 1957, an in the Corps of Cadets and a dyed-in-the-wool Hokie. He was a member of the Cradock Presbyterian Church, Portsmouth Naval Lodge and a 32nd Degree Mason Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Bobby belonged to the Norfolk Boat Club and was a member of the Catholic Club.
The ceremony at the funeral home was a simple and elegant Christian funeral. The Rev. John Ashenfelder with readings from the 121st and the 23rd Psalms and a reading from Revelations, Chapter 23, and St. Paul, led the mourners and the organist played “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.
Bobby’s death was unexpected and quick last Tuesday, July 12th. Buddy (CHS53) and Sarah Cline told me at the funeral that he died of a stroke, and lived a very short time. There was little suffering. His sister Joan Spear Spunzo (CHS 58), said that he had spent a very pleasant evening with her and husband, Ray, just a week or so ago, attending a concert at Fort Monroe. He was in good health and good spirits according to Joan.
Bobby received full military burial honors as a veteran of the Air Force and retirement from the U.S. Army National Guard as a staff sergeant with the 29th Infantry Division, 3/111 Artillery, Headquarters Battery, Portsmouth. The flag draped coffin handled with ceremonial dignity by an Army honor guard, the startling gun salute, the presentation of the flag to his daughter, and TAPS by an Army Bugler, were part of the beautiful funeral.
The Portsmouth Sheriff and his senior staff as well as uniformed law enforcement officers from Portsmouth, Suffolk and Chesapeake were present to honor him. After retirement as an administrator in a Norfolk Law firm Bob spent a few years as an auxiliary sheriff in the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Department in the Court Security Division.
He was the widower since 1998 of Delores J. Spear of Huntingdon, Pa., a girl he met and married while in the Air Force and has a daughter, Debbie Gaffos and a son, Robert Lee Spear III, a sister, Joan Spear Spunzo(CHS58) and two grandchildren Christina and Eian Gaffos.
Cradock folks were present and I could not identify them all. Of course there were members of the Class of 53, that I did not recognize, and I mentioned Buddy and Sarah Cline…my eyes are older now.; however, I spied among the mourners, Bobby’s cousin Curt Spear (CHS57), His old neighbors from next door to his Aylwin Road childhood home, Carolyn Wright Barnette (CHS 57) and Chet Barnette (CHS 60), as well as Sam Seay (CHS 54), Jimmy Meyers (CHS 54) & wife Carrie Lee Spear (CHS 49), And noted that Harold (CHS 55) and Roselyn Cullen Zerkle (CHS 57) had signed the guest book from the visitation.
This was a sad parting with a very good guy.
Bernie Kirsch (CHS 57)