George Spell, 1920-2009
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – George Spell of Sun City West, Ariz., died Aug. 9 in hospice care at his home care facility in Sun City West. His family was present for the weeks prior to his passing.
George Spell was born in Albert Lea, Minn., on May 28, 1920. He lived with his parents until their untimely deaths, and, at age 23, became man of the house to two sisters and numerous relatives, managing a restaurant directly under their apartment. He attended classes at the University of Minnesota, where he became a championship tennis player, a skill he wielded long after his college days, becoming a recognized club player throughout California and Connecticut. It was during these early years George began his love affair with aviation, becoming a certified pilot; and with his future wife, Helen Emmons, marrying her in 1948.
Lt. Cmdr. Spell served in both World War II and the Korean War as a member of Naval Air Intelligence. Most notable was action he saw aboard the carrier USS Valley Forge CV-45. Although not a great lover of the sea, George was known to be an excellent pilot and served in the Navy for over 20 years.
After his service to country and while still in the reserves, George took a job with the Honeywell Corporation, rising to vice president before his retirement in 1984. He took great pride in his involvement in the entire space program, but most notably NASA’S Apollo Program that landed a man on the moon. Knowing that a Honeywell guidance system helped land them safely was a source of great pride, even after his retirement.
In his retirement, George insisted on coming to Vail every summer. An avid skier who found Vail early in his travels, he particularly enjoyed spending summers with his family and friends, insisting that they always stay at the Willows. As a Greek who spoke the language fluently, he particularly enjoyed the annual Jouflas lamb barbecue on Bellyache Ridge. He was known to speak Greek until late into the night.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Helen, of Sun City West Ariz.; two sisters, Angeline Pappas and Katherine Brown, both of Minneapolis; his son, James George Spell, of Eagle, and wife Pam and their son and George’s grandson, Clinton James “CJ”; and his daughter, Stacy Sanden Spell and partner Thom Macpherson, of Orinda, Calif.
George Spell was buried in Arizona with full military honors. A celebration of his life was conducted immediately after the ceremony attended by family and friends. It, too, lasted late into the night.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to your local hospice care facility or the Disabled Veteran’s Fund.
“If you cannot love a Greek, you cannot love anything.”