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James M. Spellman

Obituary
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Stonington - James M. Spellman, 92, of Pawcatuck, died Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, at The Westerly Hospital.

He was born at home in the Downerville section of Pawcatuck, the son of John F. and Margaret Spellman, and grandson of John Spellman, who came to Pawcatuck from the island of Valentia, County Kerry, Ireland in 1888. He was a graduate of St. Michael's School and Stonington High School.

He was a highly decorated veteran of World War II, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters.

He was a lifetime Member of the Pawcatuck Fire Department.

In a long and varied career, he was a master machinist and a master carpenter. He was among the first to be licensed by the State of Connecticut as a real estate broker in 1955 and held his license for 57 years. He was also certified as a Connecticut Building Official from 1970 through 1980. His services as a consultant were valued. He served as Judge of the Stonington Town Court, an appointee of Governor Abraham Ribicoff, from 1956 through 1961.

He served as Connecticut's representative on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, appointed first by Governor Ella Grasso and subsequently by Governor William O'Neill. He also served on Connecticut's Judicial Selections Committee, an appointee of then president Pro Temp of the Senate John Larson.

Jim Spellman was elected 12 times and served as First Selectman of the Town of Stonington from 1961 through 1985. During that time he served concurrently as chairman of the Water Pollution Control Authority and was responsible for the construction of three complete sewer systems in Pawcatuck, Stonington, and Mystic. During his tenure four new schools were constructed, numerous athletic and recreational fields were made available to the public, and the picnic area, which was constructed during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, was reclaimed and vastly improved. Interstate Route 95 was constructed through the town during the years of his service, and he saw clearly the growth and jobs potential of tourism. A Mystic that achieved potential for growth without harmful environmental impact through the installation of the sewer system was able to welcome the Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Village,

His leadership was based on a reverence for the past accompanied by a vision for the future. Among all his accomplishments as First Selectman, he was most proud of the acquisition of the Stonington Town Dock, preserving forever a home for the Stonington Fishing Fleet, which is now the State of Connecticut's last remaining commercial fleet. At the time he retired from office, he was the State of Connecticut's longest serving municipal chief executive.

He was an excellent athlete, at one time having a three handicap in golf.

He married Claire Keane on April 6, 1942, and enjoyed 67 years of marriage until her death on Jan. 17, 2010.

He is survived by his sons, former Westerly Public Schools Administrator/ Director of Emergency Response James Spellman Jr. and his wife, Judith, of Noank, Atty. Steven Spellman and his wife, Pamel,a of Noank, and retired Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Michael Spellman and his wife, Heather, of Pawcatuck. He is also survived by his sisters, Kathleen Manfredi, Mary Stanton, Marguerite Sieczkiewicz, and Nancy Bolduc.

He was predeceased by two daughters, Patricia Spellman in infancy and Sheila Spellman Svantesson of Sherman Mills, Maine, in 2008; by his sister, Dorothy in childhood; and his brother, John "Bub" Spellman in 2010.

He leaves behind ten grandchildren, Lisa Moran, Lara Cole, David Cummings, Tonya Morgan, Brian Cummings, Dana Fusaro, Kelly Rae Spellman, Robert Keane Spellman, Michael Keane Spellman, and Hannah Claire Spellman; as well as 17 great-grandchildren.

A Funeral Liturgy will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at St. Mary's Church, 95 Main St., Stonington, followed by internment in St. Michael's Cemetery in Pawcatuck. Visiting hours are omitted.

Gaffney-Dolan Funeral Home, 59 Spruce St., Westerly, is in charge of the arrangements.

For online condolences, please go to www.gaffneydolanfuneralhome.com
Published in The Day on Oct. 3, 2012
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