Michael J. Spencer

Michael J Spencer, an exemplary husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, mentor and Marine, passed on February 20, 2024, in the arms of his beloved wife of 40 years Peggy Ann.

Michael was born on December 18, 1946, in Fort Sheridan Illinois to William Lafayette Spencer and Mary Katherine O’Donnell. Due to parental abandonment Michael and his older brother Bill, (who passed on October 14 2022) were placed in Maryville Academy Orphanage. Under the tutelage of Rev. John Smyth the Spencer boys excelled. They championed each other in basketball, football, (capturing the third CMC crown in 1963). They found their love of music and became skilled musicians (Michael played string bass and Bill trumpet). They were achievers.

Michael found his love for the written word while serving on the school newsletter “The Voice.” and continued to keep in touch with his fellow Maryville Alumni over the years. Upon graduation Michael joined the Marine Corp. It was in boot camp training he forged a lifelong bond with fellow Marine David L Stover. Michael and David were shipped out to Vietnam and were assigned as Scout Snipers to the 1st Battalion 9 Marines. Michael participated in over 12 back-to-back Operations in Vietnam until he was wounded. When David was asked about his combat experiences with Michael he replied “Vietnam was hell on earth. It was a daily diet of terror, destruction and death. We were blanketed in blood and bathed in agent orange.

Michael somehow managed in this inferno of fear to find a way to lift our spirits up with his unique humor. He was my hero.” The artillery fire may have destroyed his left leg, but not his spirit or the love for the written word. Michael attended Medill School of Journalism Northwestern University and honed his writing skills as a Research Assistant for columnists Cloherty & Owens of the Washington Post. Michael returned to Chicago and became the Executive Editor of Chicago Faces Magazine. It was there in the windy city that a gale of love blew into his office stronger than a Nor’easter in February and hotter that Asphalt in August.

Michael’s wife Peggy always said, “I took one look at him and that was it! he never had a chance.” Michael and Peggy were married in 1984. Michael, Peggy and Billy, Peggy’s young son from a prior marriage moved to Whitefish Bay Wisconsin. Michael took the position as Public Relations Specialist for the First Wisconsin National Bank of Milwaukee but more importantly he became a father to Billy. Little did he know what he was taking on, but he did an amazing job. Billy named his first son Spencer. In 1986 he was hired by The Mark Travel Corporation; it was a move that changed his life. Michael flourished within the unique corporate environment created by Bill La Macchia. Bill and his wife Sharon knew if they put people first, the profits would follow.

Michael was promoted to Executive Vice President and General Manager of South West Airlines Vacations Operated by The Mark Travel Corporation, located in Orlando, FL. Where he and his family moved to Bay Hill in Orlando Florida in 1990. The following years were golden. Michael loved his job. He appreciated his extensive staff. He knew their names and truly cared about them and their families. Company picnics were a gathering everyone treasured. His office door was always open, if you needed him, he was there for you.

The Spencer home was dubbed ” The Bay Hill Bed and Breakfast” because his front door was always revolving with family and friends who visited. Michael shared himself shuttling visitors to attractions, theme parks, golf tournaments and favorite restaurants. He treasured his grandchildren, creating special moments for each visit whether it was taking them up in a helicopter or co- piloting a small airplane. In January of 2001, he bought Peggy her vacation dream home in Bethune Beach, New Smyrna Florida. They named it quite simply “The Beach House.” That too was shared with family and friends to create lifetime memories for generations. Michael spoke to his brother Bill every day until he passed. Bill’s extraordinary wife Paulette understood their connection too and commented to Peggy “let’s try and find some peace in knowing that their conversations have now continued.”

Michael is survived by his wife: Peggy Ann, and “son” Bill R. Diehl, (Kathleen). Grandchildren: Kendall Marie, Spencer Christopher, Tristan Patrick Lee, Kieran Joseph. Half-Sibling: Kevin Keane Sister-in- Law: Paulette Spencer Sister-in- Law: Coral Jean (Hoag) Cousin: Peggy (O’Donnell) Barnett (Robert) Nieces and Nephews: Vanessa, Jenny, William (Vickie) Michele, Kelly, Lauren, Nicholas, Kelly Lynn (Paul) Amy Marie (Scott) Carrie Ann (Patrick) Daughter and Son of his soul: Chrissy Marie Malukiewicz, Christopher N. Luecke.

Preceded in death by his brother: William J Spencer (Paulette).

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