. . . there must be only one to go. This morning we lost a dear friend and part of our church family.
Ralph D. Spencer, Sr.
March 17, 1927 - April 29, 2007
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What a dear, sweet, artistic, interesting, genius of a Christian man! I fell in love with him the day I met him. Before I knew it, I was exchanging pokes of fun with him, matching him tale for tale, and even helping him with his internet woes (yeah, me! LOL) and he was thanking me for the computer help with a grand prize. The carving shown in the scan above was done by Ralph in 1994 and given to me last year. It is a replica of surviving carved panels from the historic Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas. Ralph did this carving in 1994 when he was 67 years old. It is so much more beautiful in person. A scan just isn't even close to the rich wood tones and skillful cuts. I couldn't get the entire frame in my scanner and by the way, he carved the frame, too! I was blown away with this generous gift. That was the way with Ralph - always giving and generous.
Ralph was a gifted artist and had a bountiful life. His career as a spectacular architect made him rich with opportunities. He taught architecture at the University of Texas in Austin and is renown as a fellow highly knowledgeable in the field. Because I haven't known him long, I can't tell you off the top of my head just where his career took him in all those travels - nor what awards of distinction he got. I know he came to Huntsville late in his career - actually, AFTER he retired. He was coaxed back into service when Sam Houston State University needed much looking-after structurally. He designed and built many of the buildings and remodelings there. He house is full of art by him -- drawings, oil paintings, carvings, etc. And he was a Bible scholar. He met with a little group of senior men that my husband pulled together at the church... they call themselves the Geezerites! Ralph was an integral part of that group and brought much wisdom, love, and fun to them.
Mostly, I'm sad to lose such a treasured friend as he. His wife will be lonely and we will do our best to help out. Our love extends to his sons and their families as well. I can't fault God for taking Ralph. If I were God, I would probably have called him home to be with me long ago – even before he started his long bout with heart trouble. While I celebrate Ralph's passing for his sake, I am devastated and sad for the huge vacuum it has left in our lives. I felt we had so much more to learn from him . . . and so many more raucous good times! Well, somewhere in Heaven this evening, there is a gala reunion - the likes of which we won't know 'til we get there. You go, Ralph! And don't forget us -- we'll certainly never forget you.