Gladys Ruth Stonestreet Spencer, 94 years old, gently passed away at her home in Fairbanks on July 19, 2013, with her family by her bedside.
Gladys was born Jan. 23, 1919, in North Liberty, Iowa, to Clarence and Myrtle Eaton Green in the same farmhouse that was the birthplace of her father. The fifth of six children, she was the last surviving sibling, preceded in death by Paul, Rosalia, Carl, David and John and their respective spouses.
She completed her post-secondary education in West Liberty, Iowa, in 1940. In September 1943, during World War II, Gladys moved to Richmond, Calif., with her sister, Rosalia, and brother-in-law to work in the defense shipyards.
It was there she met her sweetheart, Waldo G. Spencer, at a local Baptist church, and the couple was married on March 3, 1944. Waldo and Gladys began raising their four children, Donna, Stephen, Arthur and Margaret in California, before moving the family to Fairbanks, in 1956.
Gladys was a wonderful wife, mother and later grandmother and great-grandmother who nurtured and profoundly shaped her family's lives through her example.
The Spencers also left their fingerprints on Fairbanks and Alaska as charter members of the Fairbanks First Assembly of God Church, co-founders in the early '60s of the Fairbanks Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, volunteers in prison ministry, early supporters of KJNP and so much more.
After Waldo's retirement in 1975, they enjoyed traveling the United States in their motorhome for several years, sightseeing and visiting family and friends before eventually settling in Hot Springs, Ark. In 1981, after 37 years of marriage, Waldo passed away while in Fairbanks, visiting family.
Eight years later, Gladys married John Stonestreet and they lived together in Hot Springs for 10 years before his death in 1999. In 2001, Gladys moved back to Fairbanks - the place she always called "home" - to be close to her children, their families and the many friends she had kept in touch with during the years.
With still a continued strength and zest for life, Gladys loved to tend and supply the family with fresh vegetables from her summer garden and remained active in her church and Bible group(s), well into her 90s. Most of all, she loved to spend time with and bless her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her constant, unwavering faith in God was shown by her unconditional love of others, a true servant's heart and a sweet, simple demeanor that won the trust and hearts of many. She displayed a gift of joy with her smile, ease in frequent conversation and most of all, the signature hugs she gave everyone, even in her waning days.
Waldo and Gladys were preceded in death by their daughter, Donna Spencer Hall, in 1973, and more recently, Gladys was preceded in death by her granddaughter, Kimberly (Hall) Sledgister, and great-granddaughter, Stephanie Russell.
She is survived by her children, Steve Spencer, and wife, Joyce; Arthur Spencer; and Margaret (Spencer) Russell and husband, Darrell; son-in-law Burnie Hall and family; grandchildren, Diana Hall Powers and husband, Jeff; Cathy Russell Dallaire and husband, Reggie; Deana Russell Browning, Paul Russell, Heather Spencer Fetters and husband, Pat; Richard Spencer, David Spencer, grandson-in-law, John Sledgister; and 12 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews and their families.
The family is deeply grateful for the love and recent support from too many people to name individually, including Rebecca Worthen, the family of Fairbanks 1st Assembly of God Church, her "Thursday Prayer Ladies," and the FMH Hospice staff.
Visitation was Saturday, July 27, 2013, at the Fairbanks Funeral Home followed by a celebration of life at 2 p.m. today, July 28, at Fairbanks First Assembly of God Church, 2830 Airport Way.
Gladys will be laid to rest next to the love of her life, Waldo, in Salida, Colo., on Aug. 8, 2013, with her son-in-law, Darrell Russell, and friends, Jack Binder and the Rev. Ted Boatsman, officiating.
Gladys always put others first in deeds and prayer. In that spirit and in lieu of flowers, do a loving act of kindness, make someone smile, send a card, give a hug, pray for someone and say "I love you" to the special people in your life.
Arrangements are entrusted to Fairbanks Funeral Home.