Obituary: Robert N. Spear Jr., 1920-2014, Huntington | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Robert N. Spear Jr., 1920-2014, Huntington 

Published October 22, 2014 at 4:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Robert N. Spear Jr.
  • Robert N. Spear Jr.

Robert N. Spear Jr. – Huntington - 94, passed away on Sunday, October 19, 2014 surrounded by his family and friends. Bob was born in Burlington in 1920 to Robert N. Spear Sr. and Dorothy (Morrby) Spear. He spent much of his childhood roaming the woods around Wyben, Massachusetts. Bob’s family moved back to Vermont following the death of his mother in 1934. Bob went on to graduate from Winooski High School in 1937 and spent most of his late teens and early 20s farming with his father, except for a break in 1945 and 1946, when he served in the US Navy during World War II. In 1952 Bob began a twenty-year career with General Electric. After retiring, he founded and directed the Green Mountain Audubon Nature Center in Huntington, Vermont, until 1978. Then, in an effort to portray birds in a medium which brings them alive, Bob began carving full-time. In 1987, with the help of his life partner Gale Lawrence, family, and friends, he opened the Birds of Vermont Museum. This project became the capstone of his career. Throughout his life he was an avid advocate for the conservation and preservation of Vermont’s wild spaces, including being a member of the Camel’s Hump Park Commission and the Green Mountain Profile Committee. Bob wrote Birds of Vermont, one of the first books documenting the species of birds that live in Vermont. Over the course of his career, Bob won many awards including the Wildlife Conservation Award given by the National Wildlife Federation in 1966, the Science Educator’s Award given by the Vermont Science Teachers Association in 1979, the Governor’s Heritage Award for Traditional Artist in 2006, and the Olga Hallock Award for Community Service in 2014.

Bob loved hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, photography, studying the Civil War, and, of course, bird-watching. He was a self-taught musician and not only played but made several guitars and a mandolin. In his youth, he built and sailed his own iceboat on Lake Champlain with his friend Charles Smith, and his skills as a roller-skater at Clarey’s Bayside in Colchester were legendary. His compassion, gentleness, and sense of humor permeated every aspect of his life and touched everyone who knew him in deep and unforgettable ways.

Bob was predeceased by his parents and his sister, Betty Bessette. He is survived by his life partner Gale Lawrence, his daughter Kari Jo Spear, his son-in-law Dennis Lanpher, his granddaughters Alaria Grella and Crystal Lanpher, his grandson-in-law Scott Grella, and many, many friends.

Bob’s family would like to invite everyone to an ice-cream social which will be held from 1:00PM to 4:00PM Saturday October 25, 2014 at the Birds of Vermont Museum, 900 Sherman Hollow Rd, Huntington, VT 05462. Parking will be limited, please carpool as much as possible. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Birds of Vermont Museum. Online condolences may be shared with the family at Arrangements are under the care and direction of LaVigne Funeral Home and Cremation Service.

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