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William Spackman

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WILLIAM SPACKMAN William Spackman died on March13, 2014, at the age of 94 at Liberty Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Born William Spackman Jr. on September 20, 1919, in Chicago, Illinois, he was the son of William Spackman and Olive Hazel Totten. He was married on June 5, 1942, to Virginia June Wallace, who predeceased him after 70 years of marriage. Surviving are three children and their spouses: Kenneth W. Spackman and his wife Gloria R. Spackman of Wilmington; Barbara G. Spackman and her husband Albert R. Ascoli of Berkeley, California; and Charles T. Spackman of Wilmington. His grandchildren are Justin B. Spackman and Lauren Spackman Pittman, both of Wilmington. Lauren and her husband Antoine Pittman are the parents of William's two great-grandchildren, Aymery Pittman and Maylyn Pittman. William had one brother, Kenneth Charles Madison Spackman, who died in infancy. Dr. Spackman, professor emeritus at The Pennsylvania State University, began his post-secondary education at North Park College in Chicago, where he received the associate of arts degree in 1940. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in botany. During World War II he served at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard applying biological research to marine wood preservation. After the war, he earned his PhD in biology with a major in paleobotany in 1949 from Harvard University, and subsequently spent an illustrious career of teaching, research and service at Penn State. As a teacher, he influenced thousands of students through his Introductory Geology class, and directed many doctoral theses in paleobotany and coal science. His field research as a coal petrologist led him from the lignite fields of Vermont to the coal mines of Kentucky and the peat swamps of Florida. He founded the Coal Research Section in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State, published widely in scientific journals, and established and co-edited the 43-volume Catalog of Fossil Spores and Pollen. He received research grants from such varied sources as the National Science Foundation, the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Energy, Bethlehem Steel, US Steel, Exxon and multiple coal companies, indicating the broad and significant energy applications of his coal and sedimentary research, conducted primarily in the Florida Everglades, that provided predictive properties of coal use based on the coal composition. He was the first to document sea-level rise in south Florida, and its accompanying ecological implications. He served as Chair of the Paleobotanical Section of the Botanical Society of America; Chair of the Coal Geology Division of the Geological Society of America; and was a member of the International Commission of Coal Petrology, serving from 1964 to 1975 as President of its Nomenclature Committee. In 1976, he received the Joseph Becker Award of the Association for Iron and Steel Technology, and in 1977 he received the Gilbert H. Cady Award of the Geological Society of America for outstanding contributions to the field of coal geology. In the citation for that award, one colleague wrote, "Almost single-handedly, he was responsible for the development of coal petrology as a technically useful science in this country." In 1980, he became the founding editor of the first research journal devoted to coal geology, the International Journal of Coal Geology. In 2005, he was honored by The Society for Organic Petrology, for which he had served as president in the 1980s, with the establishment of the William Spackman Student Research Award, competitively granted annually to graduate students studying coal petrology. Dr. Spackman was active in community service as well. An Eagle Scout, he served as a district executive of the Boy Scouts of America before embarking on his scientific career. In the 1960s, he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Centre Community Hospital in State College, Pennsylvania. He was founding President of the Aaronsburg Civic Club, and served for 25 years as secretary of the Aaronsburg Water Pipes, Inc., the oldest incorporated public utility in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1981, he was appointed by the governor of Pennsylvania to the Board of Pennsylvania Science and Engineering Foundation. His hobbies included restoring his beloved 1789 House in Aaronsburg, Pennsylvania; designing miniature vignettes; boating; and growing orchids (as an honorary lifetime member of the Cape Fear Orchid Society). He retired in 1986 from Penn State, and spent the remainder of his life in Wilmington, North Carolina. His was a life well-lived, dedicated to teaching, research, community service, and, most of all, family. His lifelong credo was, "If you are going to do something, do it right." He did. All final arrangements are private. Condolences to family at www.andrewsmortuary.com Andrews Market Chapel Service
Funeral Home
Andrews Mortuary & Crematory - Market Street Chapel
1617 MARKET ST Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 762-7788
Funeral Home Details
Published in the Wilmington Star-News on Mar. 17, 2014
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