John Alexander Spear (1919-2009)

Spear had time for everyone

PENNFIELD - John Alexander Spear always had a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face and greeted everyone with humour and kindness, his family said.

After battling a long illness, John died at the Charlotte County Hospital in St. Stephen on Oct. 28. He would have been 90 on Nov. 16.

Spear's daughter Carolann said her father was the oldest of three siblings born in Sealys Cove. When her dad was four years old, his mother died. She said he and his brother, Walter, and sister, Mary, travelled from "pillar to post" staying with people they knew.

"By the time he was seven they were living in their own place on the beach. He took care of them, they (harvested periwinkles), sold fish and did whatever they could to survive," Carolann said.

She said when her father turned 20 he joined the infantry and went to war in France, Italy, Germany and Belgium. During his duty, she said, he was hit with shrapnel and was in a hospital in France for a few months recovering.

After the war, she said, he stayed in Belgium and drove a truck for the military. Carolann said a few years ago the government of Belgium honoured him with a medal of honour.

When he returned to Pennfield he drove truck and did construction work for other companies until he was able to start his own.

He owned and operated Spear's Construction for 25 years, until retiring and handing the business over to his son, Brian Spear.

Carolann said John met his wife and her mother Lora at a corner store in Pennfield where she worked. She said they married soon after and this year would have been their 62nd anniversary.

"They just loved each other," said daughter Eileen Campbell. "Mom always stood behind him with every decision he made. She helped him out."

"She kept him on the straight and narrow," Carolann said.

Despite the hard times John had endured, Carolann said he never had a chip on his shoulder. She said he was the kind of man who loved to make people laugh and would help anyone who needed a hand.

"He helped anyone and a lot of times they didn't even know he did it," Eileen said. "He gave chances to people that other people wouldn't give chances to."

Carolann said John was a dedicated member of the Royal Canadian Legion in Blacks Harbour and once gave it a face lift by painting it inside and outside and filling it with photos of all of its members.

He was also an active member of the Pennfield Presbyterian Kirk church where he served as an elder for many years.

He was the grandfather to six, the great-grandfather to 11 and the great-great-grandfather to one and Carolann said he treated each of them with plenty of love.

"He was a fantastic grandfather," Carolann said. "He would take the girls to Saint John and buy then the most beautiful dresses to wear on Christmas Eve. He always had time for them. He always had them on his knee, joking and laughing and teaching them at the same time. He taught them about life and how to treat people."

The sisters said their father taught them to be honest and trustworthy and to do a job right or don't bother doing it at all.

No matter what has changed in their lives, they said, they have always been and are proud to be known to everyone as John Spear's daughters.

SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB) - November 7, 2009.

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