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Carmen W. Spencer will return to Kona. At the end of the 93-year journey called her life, she will leave Washington State to return to her beloved Hawaii.
She was always a traveler. Her journey began in Cridersville, Ohio, on February 18, 1913. She was the youngest of seven children, having four brothers and two sisters, all of whom preceded her in death. After an early relocation in Steubenville, Ohio, she followed her family and moved to Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where she completed most of her schooling and graduated from high school, markedly active and popular, everyone’s “Little Carmen.”
Physically, she was the shortest of her siblings. But her spirit, her energy, her vibrancy, her strength, her grace, and her good cheer carried her to successes which belied her relatively diminutive stature, whether in music, golf, flying, or relating to the many occasions and people she encountered in her life.
In 1934, she married Jesse E. Spencer, who was conveniently the younger brother of the husband of her older sister. They set off on a life of movement through the plains, southwestern, and mountain states of America, with stops on the East Coast and the Gulf States, as they followed the petroleum business as well as his enlistment in the U.S. Navy in World War Two. They stayed nowhere for any remarkable period of time, though they briefly settled in Boulder, Colorado, in the mid-50s, long enough to adopt a son and see him through high school and into college. They moved over two decades in retirement into several communities in Arizona and Southern California until settling in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, in the early 1980s. But before settling down, they traveled extensively to both Europe and South America. In Europe, they not only traveled by road through France and Italy, but they also explored her family’s roots in Sweden and in the British Isles.
Kona remained her home after the death of her husband in 1992. When not traveling or hosting the many friends and family she had accrued over her long and joyous life, she continued to indulge her passions for golf and travel, primarily to events involving the marriages of the children of her nephew and nieces - from Texas to China.
In early 2005, she relocated to Tacoma, Washington, to rehabilitate from injury and to be near to her son and his family. While she could no longer play golf or travel, she truly engaged herself in her final year with them, even as she worked through subsequent injuries and an eventual fatal stroke. But her heart remained in Kona, and to it she returns. She died May 11, 2006. She has every expectation of being reunited with Jesse, a set of golf clubs, a piano, and a passport.
She is survived by her son and best-friend daughter-in-law, Wallace and Patricia Spencer of Fircrest, Washington, and her grandsons, Jesse Spencer II and Daniel Spencer, also of Fircrest, and Brendan Murphy of San Jose, California. She is also survived by the children of her double-sibling marriage, her nephew, Lee (Mary) Spencer of Houston, Texas, and nieces, Karen (Gabby) Hayes of Helendale, California, and Janet (Gibbs) Mood and Helen (Ron) Bellamy of Austin, Texas, and their families (now to two generations). She also leaves other relatives scattered across the country, as well as the legion of friends, old and new, she made in her long life and in her many travels and settlings. She remembers in particular her friends at Jameson’s By the Sea in Kona and Anthony’s At Point Defiance in Tacoma, without prejudice to the many she does not name.
She leaves with profound appreciation for the gracious, considerate, and compassionate care provided by the staffs of The Weatherly Inn of Tacoma and the Franciscan Hospice House of University Place. They were qualities she both appreciated and embodied. Any remembrances in her name should be directed to them.
Private services will be conducted in Kona at a later date.