Gordon Spencer

Obituary of Gordon Spencer

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Gordon W. Spencer, 87, died on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 at University Medical Center at Plainsboro. He was born on April 9th, 1927 in New Brunswick, NJ, the son of Dora and Benjamin Spencer. Gordon grew up in Manhattan and attended Rutgers Prep School, which was then an all-boys boarding institution. Shortly after graduation, without his parents' knowledge, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Gordon was one of 18 men that received specialized training as Pharmacist's Mates, preparing them to provide medical care in ships too small to merit a doctor. He was trained to do an appendectomy if necessary, but never got the chance. But in a rolling ship doing convoy duty in the north Atlantic in winter, he got to sew up plenty of injuries among the crew. This experience led him to decide on a career in medicine. After the war, Gordon earned a B.S. in biology from Bucknell University and an M.S. in bacteriology from Vanderbilt University. He was accepted at medical school and looking forward to matriculating in the fall when he was asked to fill in for an ailing relative at Spencer Industries, a family-owned company, over the summer. He never left. Instead, he worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually succeeding his father as President. Under Gordon's leadership, the company, which manufactured merchandise for large retail chains such as JC Penney and Sears, expanded substantially, manufacturing both domestically and overseas. He retired in the late 1990s. An accomplished horseman, Gordon's avocation was breeding and showing American Saddlebred horses, which he trained at his Glenburn Valley Farm in Griggstown, NJ. For many years, he was active on the horse show circuit all over the northeast, where horses and riders trained by him competed successfully. He was also a recognized horse show judge in the Saddlebred, Arabian and Morgan divisions. In recent years, he has enjoyed following the show ring exploits on one of his daughters. Affected late in life by Parkinson disease, Gordon became involved with the National Parkinson foundation and founded a Parkinson support group at Princeton Windrows, where he lived. Gordon is survived by his loving wife, Susan, and by his daughter and son-in-law Susan and Bruce Goldstein, of Montclair, NJ, by his daughter Ellen Susman, of Houston TX, and her husband, Steve, and by his grandchildren: Whitney and Amanda Fox, Zachary Goldstein, and Sam Mitchell, son of the late Carol Spencer Mitchell. His kindness, empathy and infectious smile brightened the lives of his family and his many friends. He will be very sorely missed. A funeral service will be held at the Mather-Hodge funeral home at 40 Vandeventer St., Princeton, on Thursday, January 29th at 1:30, followed by burial at the Rocky Hill cemetery. A reception at will follow at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer St.. in Princeton. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the National Parkinson Foundation, Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 5018, Hagerstown, MD, 21741-5018.
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