Dear Companions in Christ:
We write with sad news. Our friend and brother in Christ, Jack Spaeth, died this morning after a long illness. Jack had been in hospice for months in Portland, CT where he was lovingly cared for by his wife of over fifty-two years, Susan. Susan is doing as well as can be expected, and is thankful that Jack’s suffering in this mortal life has come to an end. In addition to Susan, Jack leaves behind his daughter Christian Stuart Spaeth and her husband David R. Spencer, his grandchildren Jack Charles Spencer and Holden Pierce Spencer all of Santa Cruz, CA and his son John Holden Spaeth of San Francisco, CA.
Jack was born and raised in Middletown where he was a life-long member of Church of the Holy Trinity, serving as a member of the vestry, choir, finance, building and investment committees, and as its Warden. He was educated in Middletown and at (Northfield) Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts and graduated with a BS in Business Administration from the University of Hartford. Jack served in the army from 1958-1960 before beginning a career in insurance and real estate working for Aetna Life and Casualty in Hartford and McCutcheon and Burr in Middletown.
In 1980 Jack came to work for the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut at the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Arthur Walmsley, Diocesan Bishop. Jack would continue to serve under four bishops diocesan for thirty-two years, retiring in 2012 as Canon for Stewardship and Administration.
Jack’s life and ministry had an indelible impact on the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and beyond. He was the initiator of a health insurance plan for the Episcopal dioceses in New England and, along with Bishop Walmsley and his Chancellor Ed Hebb, was the founder of the Province One Chancellors and Bishops Conference.
The door to Jack’s office at Diocesan House, 1335 Asylum Avenue in Hartford, was always open both to welcome any and all that came to visit as well as to keep his eye on staff and the goings on in Diocesan House. Upon entering Jack’s office one would encounter mountains of papers and folders, piled high on every available surface. Yet Jack always knew what was where, and he could pull the needed letter or document from the bottom of a pile without missing a beat.
Jack’s availability in his office was surpassed only by his readiness to consult with any and all lay and ordained leaders in times of trouble or need. Seemingly at all hours of the day and night, Jack was available by phone to help solve a parish’s or individual’s problem or answer a question. During his tenure, the counsel to “Call Jack” were the most often repeated words across the diocese. And when we did “call Jack,” he would always deliver.
Jack had a passion for “this fragile earth, our island home.” He was committed to assisting the church to pursue sustainable environmental practices and programs, and helped to organize the Connecticut Interreligious Eco-Justice Network. Upon his retirement, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut recognized his commitment to environmental activism by inaugurating the annual Jack Spaeth Care for Creation Grant, given to parishes across our diocese who share Jack’s commitment to the sustainability of creation.
A service of thanksgiving for Jack’s mortal life and new life in the Resurrection will be held at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford in June in order to accommodate schedules for member of his extended family. Details for the service will be communicated widely once they are finalized. Contributions in Jack’s memory may be made to the Jack Spaeth Care for Creation Fund c/o The Episcopal Church in Connecticut, 290 Pratt St., Box 52, Meriden, CT, 06450
With Jack’s death, we have lost a pillar of the church of the 20th century. His faithfulness, graciousness, humor, hard-work, wisdom, and love and care for all will be remembered for years to come. In Jack we were blessed with a disciple of Jesus who dedicated his life to extending God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation to all, particularly those in need. It is poignant that Jack, a faithful churchman to the end, died as we begin this Holy Week together. We thank God that for Jack, Easter has come early this year.
Well done, good and faithful servant.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas The Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens
Bishop Diocesan Bishop Suffragan