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SPENCER L. GRIPPIN SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Spencer L. Grippin of Springfield, died Thursday evening, Oct. 15, 2009, surrounded by family at the Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow. Spencer, 11th child of the late Clifford and Edna (Wheeler) Grippin was born in Great Barrington, Mass. on Sept. 20, 1932. Raised in New England and New York State he resided on Bond Street in Binghamton, N.Y. and graduated from Binghamton North High School in 1951. He worked for a time in the shoe department at Fowler's Department Store in Binghamton before enlisting in the Air Force in 1953. In the USAF he joined the Strategic Air Command (SAC), flying as a gunner on B-52 aircraft. He loved flying. He was transferred to Westover AFB in Chicopee, Mass. in 1968, bought a home in Springfield and resided primarily in Springfield for the past 41 years. While stationed at Westover he saw several tours of combat duty in Thailand and Guam during the Vietnam War and received the Purple Heart, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, among other awards. He survived the crash of a B-52 damaged by enemy fire in December 1972, during Operation Linebacker. He retired from active duty in 1973 after 20 years of distinguished service. While in the Air Force he taught himself TV repair and after retiring from the Air Force worked as a TV serviceman at Gamelli's Furniture and TV store in Springfield until 1996, then continued TV service in his own business until 2000. Never one to sit still, he worked until age 75 at Welker's Service Station in Springfield. He was a lifelong auto mechanic, carpenter and all around handyman. He played many sports, and especially loved golf, and was a dedicated fan of the Brooklyn and LA Dodgers and Red Sox. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by brothers Clifford Jr., Bill, Dick, Jack, and Alvin Grippin, and sisters Marjorie Lubniewski and Jean Bradish. He is survived by his former wife of 34 years Betty (Goodrich) and their children David and his wife Doris of Colchester, Vt.; Brian of Denver, Colo.; Denise Smith and her husband Mark of Chicopee, Mass.; Edith Gingras and her husband Michael of Colchester, Vt.; and Cheryl Gingras and her husband Edward of Milton, Vt.; his wife of 20 years, Patricia Kenyon; stepsons Shawn Kenyon of Springfield; Jason Kenyon and his wife Natalie of Ocoee, Fla.; stepdaughter Christina Kenyon of Orlando, Fla.; brothers Thomas of Binghamton, N.Y.; and Earl of Springfield, Mass.; sister Marion Kelsey of Endicott, N.Y.; 18 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. Rites of Committal and Burial with Military Honors will be at the Chapel of the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Main Street, Agawam, Mass. on Friday afternoon, Oct. 30, 2009, at 3 p.m. followed by a reception at the VFW post at 764 Riverdale Street, West Springfield, Mass. Memorial contributions may be made to Jewish Geriatric Services, Wernick Adult Daycare Fund, 770 Converse Street, Longmeadow, Mass. 01106 (online at Spencer's family extends a special thanks to the staff at the Wernick Adult Daycare Center.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Oct. 22, 2009
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