John Henry Spangler

WATERVILLE, Maine - John Henry Spangler, of Waterville and China Lake passed away peacefully on March 13 at Mount Saint Joseph Residence & Rehabilitation, lovingly cared for both physically and spiritually since suffering a stroke more than a year ago by the truly wonderful staff there.
John was born Feb. 14, 1923 in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania to John Walter and Grace Copley Spangler. He leaves a devoted wife, Natalie (Nancy) Spangler with whom he shared 70 blissful years. Also, their three children: son John and his wife Maryellen in Utah; daughter Mary and her husband Tim Blagg, formerly of Waterville, now living in Greenfield, Mass.; and daughter Nancy with her husband William Tiernan, also formerly of Waterville but now in Colorado. These families blessed John and Natalie with six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
John served in the U.S. Navy as a blimp pilot during World War II, flying from bases on the Atlantic coast of North and South America to protect convoys from submarines, and later as a Naval Reservist until the end of the Lighter-Than-Air program in 1970. He retired from the Navy as a Lt. Commander.
His love of flying continued, and included many hours flying patients or families (and once even an injured bald eagle!) for treatment elsewhere as a volunteer for Air Lifeline.
He was a member of UFO (United Flying Octogenarians), and his last flight was a week before his stroke in November 2011.
He also enjoyed 28 years service as a volunteer for Maine General Hospital (Thayer) in Waterville, where he was honored for his thousands of hours of service.
John and Natalie raised their family in the Philadelphia suburbs, then moved to Houston, Texas, before finally settling in Waterville nearly 30 years ago. They loved their summers on China Lake, filled with swimming, canoeing and sailing in John's lovingly restored 1940's-vintage Town Class Sloop, "Swan."
John was noted for his patience, frugality, sense of humor and sense of navigation, making life interesting and fun for those around him - and now lonely for all who loved him.
His remains will be buried at sea by the US Navy, and a memorial service will be held at a future date.

Published in The Recorder on Mar. 15, 2013