A life remembered

Roy Spooner, also knownas 'The Gov.,' worked at life

Roy Spooner, also knownas 'The Gov.,' worked at life

May 14, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Roy Michael Spooner, who died May 5 at the age of 55. His obituary appeared in the May 9 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

On Monday, May 8, a moment of silence was observed for "The Gov" by employees of both the main U.S. Post Office on Franklin Street and the northern station on Conamar Drive.

"The Gov" was Roy M. Spooner, who died May 5 at the age 55 after a long battle with a brain tumor.

"I never knew why Roy was called 'The Gov,' but it seemed to suit him," said Ronda Sisk, who worked with Roy for more than 20 years, both in the postal service and actively in the postal union. "He wasn't big in stature, but there was a presence about him."


Roy's wife, Bonnie, said they married in 1994, when both of them were in the "autumn of our lives." They met at a singles dance at the Knights of Columbus and were together from then until the end.

After Roy died, Bonnie said, she learned things about him she had not known before when she read things he wrote knowing that the end was near.

"This has been a spiritual journey for me," she said.

That journey began 12 years ago, when Roy and Bonnie were married in the living room of her home on Bower Avenue.

"That year, I bought this house, had a grandchild and got married to Roy," Bonnie said.

Born and raised in Vermont, Roy was the oldest of four children. There, he was active in sports and skiing, according to his brother, Peter, who spoke by telephone from Duluth, Minn., where he is curator of the Tweed Museum of Art at the University of Minnesota.

"He was a great brother, older than me by seven years," Peter said. "I looked up to Roy - he was so together, and always good in school and sports."

Roy had an associate degree from Champlain College in Burlington, Vt., and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Florida Atlantic University.

Bonnie said she didn't know about the Florida degree until she found his diploma after Roy died. She did know some about his military service, but the details of his actual duties only surfaced recently.

"He had top-secret clearance," Bonnie said.

During his military stint from 1970-72, Roy was in Korea. In 1976, he began another four-year tour.

During his military service, Roy studied the Russian language, as well as signaling and codes and what was called an interceptor, which meant he could recognize Russian when he heard it on radio transmissions, Bonnie said.

An earlier marriage produced a son, Ryan, whom Roy was proud of all of his life.

Always fond of children, Roy was a longtime supporter of Children's International and Christian Children's Fund, and sponsored a youth from each organization.

"I told Roy I would support them until I die," Bonnie said.

After the brain tumor was found in 1999, Roy underwent surgery and radiation treatments. Bonnie also put him on a strict diet to help him recuperate. But the tumor forced some major changes in his life, including going on sick leave in 2000 after a brief return to his postal duties.

Roy's last job was with Horizon Goodwill Industries.

A banquet waitress at Four Points Sheraton, Bonnie said 2003 and 2004 were good years for her and Roy, as they participated in the arthritis swim program at the Hagerstown YMCA to aid his motor skills.

"Roy made potholders, beading crafts and latch-hook, which also helped his short-term memory," Bonnie said.

In the last seven years, Roy took piano lessons and volunteered at Ravenwood Lutheran Village.

"He wanted to do things he hadn't done," Bonnie said.

Bonnie took a leave from work in January and February so she and Roy could do more things together.

"I'm really glad I did that now," she said.

Sitting alone at the kitchen table looking back over the last 12 years with Roy, Bonnie said she is glad she has so many good memories, and even a snippet of his voice.

"He's on the voice-mail message on the telephone, and I'm not going to take it off," Bonnie said.

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