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Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Joan Spenser

Joan Spenser, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend passed away peacefully due to complications of COVID-19 December 23, 2020, at age 100. 

Joan, the eldest daughter of Edward McCaffrey and Irene Bates was born in Chicago, IL in 1920. Raised by her widowed mother in the midst of the Depression, Joan began to nurture her lifelong love of learning at an early age, winning a scholarship to attend Chicago Teachers College. Shortly after graduating in 1942, she moved to Washington, DC to work for the Department of Commerce.  She met Charles “Spense” Spenser, her beloved husband of 63 years, at a USO dance on her first day in town. Joan and Spense married in 1946, and raised their five children in Silver Spring, MD. She attained an additional degree in library science from Catholic Univ. in 1964, and worked for Montgomery County Public Libraries as a children’s librarian for 14 years.

After retiring, Joan and Spense spent many years in AZ and CA before settling at Falcon’s Landing in Potomac Falls, VA. Joan had many years to enjoy her retirement and filled her days with volunteer work, travel, and visits with friends and loved ones. A devout Catholic, she remained active in Bible study and served as a Eucharistic minister. She never lost her love of learning, attending classes in history, literature, and political science well into her 90s. Joan’s humor, kindness, intelligence, and sense of fun endeared her to anyone who was lucky enough to know her.

Joan is survived by sons John (Cheryl), William, and James (Patricia), daughter Kathleen (Randall), 15 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Charles “Spense,” daughter Joanne (Stephen) Engstrom, and sister Cecile (Walter) Hill. A celebration of her life will be held when pandemic conditions permit. Joan will be interred alongside her husband at Arlington Cemetery.

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