Selden Spencer
1923 - 2020
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Selden Spencer
April 28, 1923 - October 26, 2020
New Paltz, NY
Selden Spencer, 97 of New Paltz, New York passed away on Monday, October 26, 2020 at his home in New Paltz, surrounded by his loved ones.
Born April 28, 1923 in Towanda, Pennsylvania he was the son of the late Lyman and Elinor (Dinsmore) Spencer. He grew up on their small farm in Bradford County, PA.
On May 19, 1951 in State College, PA, he married M. Jean Mumford. They had over 66 happy years together before her death on March 20, 2018.
Selden graduated from Troy High School in 1940. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Mansfield College in 1948 and subsequently taught at Troy High School briefly. Later he worked for Sylvania in Towanda, PA. He then enrolled in graduate school at Pennsylvania State University. While working on his doctorate he taught in the Science Department at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT from 1959 until 1963. Selden attained his Doctorate in Education from Penn State in 1963 and was a Professor of Biology at SUNY New Paltz from 1963 until his retirement in 1988.
Selden was a lifelong singer, music lover, nature lover, and traveler. He was an active and devoted member of the New Paltz United Methodist Church for more than 50 years, and was musically gifted with a beautiful tenor singing voice. Selden sang in the church choir as well as several well-known choral groups over the years. He also played the violin, ukulele, and harmonica.
Selden loved nature and the outdoors. He was a lifelong birdwatcher, and he banded birds for more than 30 years. He was a leading member of the John Burroughs Natural History Society for many years. As a biology professor at SUNY New Paltz, he was known for his challenging and messy field trips.
He loved to travel, including several trips with students to the Bahamas and other interesting destinations. He backpacked and camped in remote places like Alaska, Baffin Island and other parts of Canada, and Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Selden also traveled, sometimes with his beloved wife, Jean, to such far flung destinations as Hawaii, Europe, Alaska, various locations in the Caribbean, and Antarctica. He courageously took his wife and two kids on a road trip across the country (and back) to the Monterey Bay during the Summer of Love in a Peugeot station wagon!
Survivors include his sons, James T. Spencer, MD of New Paltz, NY and Paul S. Spencer of New Paltz, NY; his grandchildren: Erika Spencer-Iwai of Honolulu, HI, Jessica Spencer of Rosendale, NY, Rebecca Spencer of Kingston, NY, and Heath Spencer of Rosendale, NY; and his great-grandchildren: Asahi, Luke and Savannah.
In addition to his parents and wife, he was predeceased by his siblings: Lincoln D. Spencer, Patricia J. Selleck, and Julia A. MacIntosh.
A Funeral Service will be held in his honor via Zoom (due to the pandemic) starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 7, 2020 with Pastor Jennifer Berry of the New Paltz Methodist Church officiating. Those wishing to attend should e-mail Paul Spencer at for a link to the service.
Burial will take place at a later date at New Paltz Rural Cemetery, 81 Plains Road, New Paltz, NY.
Copeland-Hammerl Funeral Home is honored to assist Selden's family with the arrangements.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Times Herald-Record from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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