Gerald Lewis Spencer, “Jerry,” 96, well known Canton resident, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of January 11, 2021, at Twin Oaks Personal Care Home in Granville Summit, PA., while surrounded by the love of his family. Gerald was born on August 2, 1924, in Canton, PA, to the late Glenn Sr. and Alice (Palmer) Spencer. He graduated from Canton High School with the class of 1943. Following graduation, Gerald enlisted in the US Army and proudly and courageously served his country during WWII. On December 21, 1944, near Luxemburg, shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, Gerald was taken prisoner by German forces and detained for four months. He was transferred, mostly by foot during the harsh winter months, among four different Stalag camps from Berlin to Rostock on the Baltic Sea, which was approximately 850 miles. On April 26, 1945, he was released by a Russian tank company which stormed the camp. Before his recent illness, he could still vividly recall his experiences in the war up to, during, and after his capture and release. He was the definition of True American Hero and received several service-connected medals including two Purple Hearts.
On February 14, 2019, Gerald was honored at a prestigious ceremony as the last known living WWII POW in Bradford County. He was extremely proud of this milestone and made sure to tell everyone that he was on television and the front page of the newspaper.
Shortly before Gerald’s honorable discharge from the US Army, he married the former Grace E. Finnerty, and they shared 52 years of marriage before her death in October 1997. After returning to Canton, Gerald began working at George Crain’s Garage. On April 24, 1948, he started working at H. Rockwell and Son where he was employed for over 50 years before retiring.
He was a member of the Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ) in Canton for over 60 years and had a great love for the church. “Jerry,” as he was known by his church family, served as custodian, Deacon, and Sunday School Secretary for many years before assuming the role of Sexton. He would be the first one at the church on Sunday to prepare for the service, in charge of setting up tables for events, and also went to the church every night to turn off any lights and lock up. These are just a few of his many contributions there over the years. He was known as the right hand man to former minister David Morris. He also had a special bond with the Morris children and was very supportive of their athletic endeavors in Canton.
Gerald loved spending time with his family, watching professional wrestling, westerns, and Hogan’s Heroes. He was an avid Canton sports fan and in earlier years attended many baseball, football, and softball games.
In addition to his parents and wife Grace, Gerald was predeceased by his stepmother Viola Spencer; infant daughter Jean Louise; beloved son Alan L.; brothers John (Jack), James, Glenn Sherman Jr., and Carl; sisters Louise Reynolds and Laura Wilcox. He is survived by brother-in-law William Finnerty (Rosalie) of Dryden, NY, several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Gerald will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by his family and friends for his many stories, generosity, quick wit, “Jerry-isms,” integrity, intelligence, and reliability. He was truly one of a kind and an amazing role model. He always put his family and friends first and was willing to help anyone at any time.
Due to the Covid Pandemic, a military memorial service to honor Gerald’s life will be held and announced at a later date. Burial will be in the East Canton Cemetery at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers. please consider memorial donations in Jerry’s name to the Canton Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ), C/O Canton Church of Christ’s building upkeep and maintenance fund, 170 N. Minnequa Ave. Canton, Pa 17724.
Pepper Funeral Home and Cremation Facility Inc., 578 Springbrook Drive, Canton, PA 17724 is assisting the family. Please share memories and condolences with the family at www.pepperfuneralhomes
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