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Melvin M. Spence


1927 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Melvin M. Spence Obituary
Melvin M. Spence

Virginia Beach - Melvin Merritt Spence, 87, died Saturday, June 28, 2014, after a lengthy illness. Born May 9, 1927, he was the eldest of three children born to Raymond Boykin and Jewel Merritt Spence. He was a lifelong resident of Tidewater.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Elizabeth W. "Betsy" Spence; his sisters, Shirley and her husband, Dr. Edwin Spencer, Dorothy and her husband Ronald Dederick; a niece, Cynthia Edkins and her husband, Claude and daughter, a great niece, Caitlin Strolli; nephew, Kenneth Dederick and his son, Tyler, a great nephew.

Mel graduated from Maury High School in 1945. After serving in the Navy where he was stationed in the Philippines during World War II, he entered Virginia Polytechnic Institute and received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1950.

Following employment with an Architectural firm and the Naval Facilities Command Naval Base, Norfolk, VA, Mel founded the firm of Melvin M. Spence and Associates, Architects in 1956. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects, A.I.A. and the National Panel of American Arbitration Association. Mel was certified as a value engineer by the General Services Administration and the Evironmental Protection Agency and completed a marketing course at Harvard University. He held registration in Virginia and North Carolina.

For over 35 years, he had an interesting and varied practice. He designed the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, phase one and phase two, Great Bridge High School, Deep Creek High School in Chesapeake; a plant for the Corporate Headquarters for Planter's Peanuts in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He was also responsible for designing over 40 churches, 22 automobile dealerships and a number of homes, banks and other commercial buildings.

He was a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates and former chairman of the Second District Republican Party. He served as chairman of the Bush/Quayle Campaign in the 82nd District and was an elector for the President and Vice President in 1986. He formerly served on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Maritime Historical Museum; the Virginia Beach Orchestral Association, the Virginia Beach Chamber of Commerce; board of Trustees for Humana Hospital Bayside, President of the Linlier Civic League; Chairman of the 1986 Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, a former director of the First Virginia Bank Board; Virginia Beach Orchestra Board; the Virginia Beach Maritime Historical Museum Board; Humana Bayside Hospital Board, the Sugar Plum Bakery Board and Board of Trustees of the Harbor Club. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church and Princess Anne Country Club. Mel's pastimes included hunting, fishing, boating and travelling to many countries with his wife, Betsy. Mel lived his life well and will be remembered as a man of integrity and intelligence and a wonderful sense of humor.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 12 at First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 300-36th St., Virginia Beach, VA 23451 or the Virginia Beach SPCA, 3040 Holland Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23453.

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Published in The Virginian Pilot on July 6, 2014
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