Spencer David McPeak, 81, of Minot, died on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He died at home, in the comfort and company of his loving family.
Spencer, or “Spence” as many of his friends knew him, was an only son. He was born on Oct. 4, 1932, in Sparta, Wis., to Spencer E. and Margaret (Harter) McPeak. He was raised and educated in La Crosse, Wis., and graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 1951. He enlisted in the Air Force on Dec. 7, 1951. Upon completion of his training as radio operator he was deployed to combat in the Korean theatre of operations as a forward air controller. Following his tour of duty in Korea, he served as a radar operator at various bases throughout the United States and overseas. His first duty station following his service in Korea was in Condon Ore., where he met his wife of 60 years, Harlean Shaffer. In addition to his participation in the Korean War, he deployed numerous times to Vietnam (1967-1969) while stationed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. His last duty station was at Minot AFB from where he retired as a tech sergeant in 1972, after 21 years of honorable service to our nation. His military awards include the Air Force Good Conduct Medal w/ 3OLC, Air Force Longevity Service Award w/ 3OLC, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Air Force Commendation Medal.
Spencer married Audrey Harlean Shaffer on June 11, 1955, in Condon. For the first 21 years of marriage they made their home where the Air Force needed them, but after retiring from the USAF Minot became home. He was initially employed by MonDak Chemical Company where he managed the operation of the first Roto Rooter franchise in Minot. He began his civil service career at Minot Air Force Base in 1974, initially specializing as a plumber and painter. In 1985 he was selected manager of the Minot Air Force Suggestion Program. Spencer retired after 20 years of federal civil service in 1994. Minot became their permanent home in May 1969. In 1994, after Spence and Harlean retired, they purchased an RV and opted to spend their winters in McAllen, Texas.
Spencer was a gifted athlete; he was drafted by and signed with the Cleveland Indians as a pitcher during a short break in his military service. Unfortunately due to an injury to his arm his career as a pro athlete was cut short at which point he decided to return to active duty. Throughout his life, and particularly the pre-retirement years, Spencer was an avid outdoorsman. He found joy in hunting and fishing, a love and gift he shared with his children and grandchildren. Upon his retirement, he invested most of his time in the game of golf, a sport and pastime which allowed him to share many quality years with friends and family. His enduring love of sports made him a loyal fan of the Minot High School and Minot State University sporting events of which he attended as many as he could. One of his trademarks was his undeniable loyalty to the Green Bay Packers and New York Yankees. He was a true fan. In 2010 Spencer achieved a lifelong dream, and attended a Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
A man of faith, Spencer was a devout Christian and a member of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus and Eagles Aerie.
Our beloved Spence was a loving husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather, a loyal and devoted son, and irreplaceable friend. He was tremendously talented, generous, witty and intelligent. A generous soul, he lived for his friends and family. He was a private man; he lived a quiet unpretentious life. Passionate about his service to his country and proud to be a veteran, he was a pillar of undeniable faith for our family and a solid example to all fortunate to know him. His legacy is that of devout Catholic, husband, father and grandfather, loyal friend, dedicated employee and dedicated son. As we mourn his passing we celebrated the many gifts he shared with us, and the joy with which he lived his life. We are comforted in knowing that he is once again reunited with those he loved and preceded him in death, and that his legacy will live on among those who loved him and knew him best.
Spencer is survived by: his loving wife of 60 years, Harlean; his children, Jeff (Lynne) McPeak, of Rockwell, Texas, Col. Bruce (Mary) McPeak, of Chesterfield, Va., Kevin (Barb) McPeak, of Minot, and Judy McPeak, of Minot; grandchildren, Jennifer Galindo, Jessica Haskins, Jarrad and Jordan Garnand, Christopher Lorenz, Trent and Jason McPeak, Megan, Kyle, Karley and David McPeak, Sam and Haleigh McPeak; great-grandchildren, Joaquin and Joel Galindo, Ayla, Hailyn and Paisley Haskins, Kayleen Lorenz, Mason McPeak and Brynlee Zieman.
Spencer was preceded in death by his parents.
Mass of Christian Burial: Thursday, Jan. 30, at 11 a.m. in St. John’s the Apostle Catholic Church, Minot.
Interment: Rosehill Memorial Park Veterans Section, Minot.
Vigil Prayer Service: Wednesday, at 7 p.m., in the Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot.
Visitation: Wednesday, from 2 to 7 p.m., in Thomas Family Funeral Home, Minot.
In lieu of plants and flowers, memorials are preferred to Trinity Hospice.
Those wishing to sign the online memorial register or share memories and condolences are invited to use the expressions of sympathy section at (www.thomasfamilyfuneralhome.com).