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Jule C. Spach, a former missionary and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the US, dies at 98

He’s remembered for his ‘fun-loving and adventurous spirit’

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Jule C. Spach

LOUISVILLE — Jule Christian Spach, who served 25 years in the mission field in Brazil before being elected in 1976 as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, died March 26 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was 98.

In his obituary published by the Winston-Salem Journal, Spach is described as “a man of great love, faith and joy” who “lived life to the fullest, constantly helping others feel appreciated and uplifted. He had a fun-loving and adventurous spirit, a smile that lit up a room, a ready hug for everyone, and a steadfast dedication to his family and to serving God and others.”

A native of Winston-Salem, Spach was born on Dec. 21, 1923, to Jule Christian and Margaret Stockton Spach. Upon graduation from high school in 1942, he entered the Virginia Military Institute but soon joined the U.S. Army Air Forces, participating as a B-24 Liberator pilot in the European theater during World War II. After his plane was shot down, he became a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III. After being liberated, he pursued his studies at Georgia Tech.

In 1948 he married Nancy Webster Clendenin of Greensboro, North Carolina, and received his degree in chemical engineering the following year. He undertook additional studies at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and what’s now Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

In 1951, he affiliated as an educational missionary with the PCUS, a forebear to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and spent the next 25 years in Brazil, teaching chemistry and mathematics during his early years there. He became a coach and director of the athletic program as well as president of the school, the Colégio Quinze de Novembro. Later, he administered a massive adult literacy campaign sponsored by the PCUS in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.

In 1973, he became field secretary for the Presbyterian Brazil Mission. While in Brazil, he served on the board of the Gammon Presbyterian Institute in Lavras. After retiring from mission service, he was made an honorary citizen of the city of Garanhuns, Pernambuco, Brazil.

In 1976 he returned to the United States when he was elected the 116th Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCUS. After completing those duties, he became founding director of the Triad United Methodist Home, now Arbor Acres, in Winston-Salem. He led the Winston-Salem Council for the Homeless and was president of the Senior Services board. He and Nancy delivered meals on wheels for more than 20 years.

He was a member of the board of directors of King College in Bristol, Tennessee; Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina; and Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina. He received honorary doctorates from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Bellhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, and King College.

He is predeceased by his beloved wife of 69 years, Nancy Clendenin Spach, and their infant son, Jule Christian Spach III. He is survived by five children: Lynn S. Lane (and husband Edward); Margaret S. Cuningham (and husband Robert); Anne S. Griffen (and husband Thomas); Cecilia S. Welborn (and husband Gayland); and Robert C. Spach (and wife Gail Robards Spach). He is also survived by his brother Dr. Madison Stockton Spach of Durham, North Carolina, as well as 15 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren. The family also appreciatively acknowledges Mary Lu Whaling, his dear friend and companion over the past few years.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, April 16, at Salem Funeral Home, 2951 Reynolda Road, in Winston-Salem. A reception will follow. A link to the livestream of the service will be posted on the Salem Funeral Home website.

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