John Lester Spafford (former Waterville resident) passed away recently
Spafford, John Lester 01/06/1915 ~ 02/17/2015 SAN DIEGO -- The world dimmed a bit when it lost John L. Spafford: craftsman, inventor, husband, father, grampa, gamesman, dancer, helper, friend. We grieve at his passing, but celebrate a life well-lived and a man well-loved for over 100 years. John was born in the little mining town of Valdez, Colo., to a telegrapher dad and a laughing mom. He grew up on a farm in Waterville on the banks of the Maumee River, south of Toledo, Ohio -- a magical place of cottonwoods and creeks. His Uncle Frank taught him respect for tools and "making do." From then on his hands, tools, ingenuity and sweet patience would solve any problem. Give him some oak barrel staves, inner tube rubber bands, Elmer's glue and some C clamps, and with his trusty pocket knife he could mend your break or devise your gadget. John's life revolved around his family and his beloved wife of nearly 75 years, Betty. They met on a double date, dancing at the Trianon Ballroom in Toledo. From then on they danced through life together to the beautiful music they created. John and Betty remodeled a little house near the river in Waterville, and welcomed daughters Sally and Suzy in the mid-'40s. John worked as a self-taught tool designer - and eventually as a manufacturing engineer in an automotive parts plant, work that contributed to the WWII effort. His success led to an invitation to join the gas turbine engine project at Solar Aircraft, in San Diego, Calif. A look at the travelogue map showed palm trees, cactus and sombreros, so they said, "Let's go!" In February, 1948 they left the snowy Maumee banks for the sunny Pacific beaches. In 1949 they welcomed son John to their little Crown Point home, and began looking for a place to grow. After months of Sunday afternoon searches in their Morris Minor convertible they found a vacant lot overlooking the Mission Bay mudflats from Loma Portal where the Colonial Ranch home was built to John's blueprints. Then John and Betty and the three kids entered the church, school, Little League, piano lessons, home improvement, camping, square dancing, Scouts and art lessons, world. John's engineering mind and amazing craftsmanship in wood assured he always had a workshop project going. His favorite hobby was making wood carvings of Norman Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post covers. He loved turning candlesticks, clocks and lamps on his wood lathe, making footstools and toys for grandkids, furnishings for Suzy's growing company, Suzy's Zoo, mementos for family events - and any gadget Betty needed around the house. John loved a good time. He and Betty fox-trotted through the city and traveled abroad. He loved root beer floats while playing pool with his buddies. He loved a funny prank, a homemade Halloween costume, a picnic at Balboa Park, a chess game, a Louis L'Amour novel, and croquet in the back yard. John is survived by his wife Betty, his three children Sally (Mark Hamilton), Suzy (Ray Lidstrom), John (Lynn), nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A celebration of John's life will be held Monday, February 23, 2:00 p.m. at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions to the Renovation Fund, Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, 2128 Chatsworth Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107.
Published in U-T San Diego on Feb. 21, 2015
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