Obituary - Dr. Holt V. Spicer

Dr. Holt V. Spicer Obituary Photo

Dr. Holt V. Spicer

February 1, 1928 - March 5, 2019
Age: 91
Residence: Springfield, MO
Formerly of: Pasadena, CA

Dr. Holt V. “Spike” Spicer died on March 5, 2019, beginning his second chapter of eternal life after thoroughly enjoying 91 years in the first one. Spike was born Feb. 1, 1928, to John and Dorothy Spicer, growing up in Los Angeles, CA. After graduating as valedictorian of his high school class, Spike joined the U.S. Navy in 1946, serving his country by caring for soldiers wounded in World War II. After discharge, Spike attended the University of Redlands, where he considered a call as a preacher but became a championship debater instead, winning the National Debate Tournament twice. At Redlands, he met Marion A. Gibson, and the two were wed shortly after his graduation in 1952, beginning a 66-year marriage.

Spike was handpicked to replace the legendary debate coach at Southwest Missouri State College, Dr. Virginia Craig. At SMS (now Missouri State University), Spike led debate teams to several national championships, including defeating the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in a televised tournament on St. Patrick’s Day. More than winning championships, Spike formed students, investing himself in his debaters’ lives as much as in their studies and thereby forming lifelong friendships. After earning a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, Spike was promoted to be head of the Department of Speech and Theatre and later dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, serving as dean from 1971 to 1985. In that work, he earned the nickname “Spike the Just” from former university President Duane G. Meyer, who named him as the institution’s most trusted honest broker. After retiring from administration (service he always warned would “ruin a good man forever”), Spike returned to his first love, teaching.

A communications professor who ironically preferred listening to talking, Spike used his gifts of empathy and connection to build deep relationships with Marion, their four children, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was equally at home changing diapers (in a day when few men would), playing baseball, being the designated listener at choral concerts, or counseling growing children over late-night beers. Though Spike shied away from taking center stage, with enough prodding he would regale the family with his rendition of “Anne Boleyn.” Ever practical, he was the source of insightful childrearing advice, most notably, “Never mess with a happy tad.”

In addition to his beloved Marion, Spike leaves behind children Mary Ellen Hartford (Hershel), Susan Lissant, Laura Waldman (Theron), and John Spicer (Ann); grandchildren Emily Heard (Greg), Rhiannon Strick (Eric), Jasmine Cloud (Nick), James Fry, Kathryn Spicer, Daniel Spicer, and Grace Hartford; and great-grandchildren Audrey Heard, Tristin Heard, Braxton Strick, Bella Strick, Marina Cloud, and Luca Cloud.

A celebration of Spike’s eternal life will be held where Spike worshiped and served for decades, Christ Episcopal Church, 601 E. Walnut St. in Springfield, at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Christ Episcopal Church. To leave an online condolence, please visit www.cremationsoftheozarks.com


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Funeral Home Information
Cremations of the Ozarks
Cremations of the Ozarks
130 Industrial Park, Suite E
Hollister, MO 65672
Phone: (417) 544-0218
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Service Information
Location: Christ Episcopal Church
Date/Time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, 2019
601 E. Walnut Street
Springfield, MO
Phone: 417-866-5133
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