John Howard Spence, age 79, of Fernandina Beach, passed away on Friday, February 16, 2018 at the Warner Center for Caring.
He was born on December 16, 1938 in Philadelphia, PA to the late James A. and Ruth (Hudson) Spence. Educated in the Catholic schools of Philadelphia, he would, after some time in college, begin a career in the U.S. Coast Guard.
John spent his career at locations up and down the east coast including New Jersey, New York, Florida and Virginia. His last duty station brought him to Fernandina Beach where he lived at the Fernandina Beach Lighthouse. Throughout the years, John always said he loved the Coast Guard and enjoyed every day he was in service. He retired as a Chief Boatswains’ Mate.
John dearly loved his wife, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After retirement from the Coast Guard, he spent time working for Rayonier and at Kings Bay Submarine Base but would “retire” a second time to be with his grandchildren. Between his children and grandchildren, he served as boys’ baseball coach, girls’ softball coach and soccer coach at various times.
In addition to being “Coach” he spent many hours at the picnic table under his carport where he would provide advice or a listening ear for his family. Many times, John was heard to say he had a good and full life and did not know what he did to deserve a life in which he was so happy.
His family and his Catholic faith meant everything to him. He was a longtime parishioner of St. Michael’s Church.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his first wife, Vicki; a daughter Wendy Spence-Mahoney, a brother, George Spence and his stepson, Stephen Todd Ardis.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years , Geraldine B. Spence of Fernandina Beach, Florida; children, Stephanie (Larry)Ogilvie of Fernandina Beach, Florida, Joanne (Bill) Cooper of Jacksonville, Florida, Chris (Danielle) Spence of Fernandina Beach, Florida, Donna (Brian) McKeever of Melbourne Beach, Florida, Karen (Mike) Thomas of Lithia, Florida, step-son, Michael Ardis of Yulee, Florida; brothers, James (Helen) Spence of Vorhees, New Jersey, Dennis (Kimberly) Spence of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania; grandchildren, Kimberly, Lacey, Travis, Vicki, Kiri, Olivia, Caitlin, Jacob, Austin, Shelby, Taylor, Casey, Michael, Stephen, and Garrett; and great-grandchildren, Parker, Holden, Jennings, Greyson and Jaxon.
A Funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 am on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. He will be laid to rest in Bosque Bello Cemetery.
Following the services, the family invites all to celebrate John’s life at the home of Stephanie and Larry Ogilvie at 2633 S. 14th Street on Mystic Lane in Fernandina Beach.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in John’s honor to NE Florida Community Hospice.