Dr. Mary Elizabeth Spence

dr. mary spence

June 16, 1928 ~ May 31, 2005

Resided in: Pueblo, CO

Dr. Mary E. Spence, a distinguished educator and musician, passed away on May 31, 2005, at a local hospice. She was 76. She was preceded in death by her parents, James A. and Marie A. Kaneaster, and her grandson, Robbie Hill. She is survived by her husband, Melvin L. Spence, and their children: David M. Spence and wife, Kathleen, of Colorado Springs; AnnaLee Hill and husband, James, of Spring, Texas; and Marcia L. Spence of Columbia, Missouri. In addition, she is survived by five grandchildren, Kellie and Michael Hill of Spring, Texas, and Darby, Reilly and Daniel Spence of Colorado Springs. Dr. Spence taught at Morton, Haaff and Somerlid elementary schools after arriving in Pueblo in 1955. She later served as director of reading programs for School District 60. In 1972, she became a professor in the education department at Southern Colorado State College (now CSU-Pueblo), and was named the school's educator of the year in 1977. Dr. Spence also started and served as the director of the McClelland Center for Child Study in Pueblo for several years. In 1981, she was named principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Canon City, where she worked until she retired in 1987. Mary was a skilled musician. She played the violin and viola and was a member of the Pueblo Civic Symphony for more than 35 years. She continued to teach music lessons and perform up until her death. She was born on June 16, 1928, in Bisbee, Arizona. Her father died when she was six, and she moved with her mother to Denver in 1938. She graduated from Denver South High School in 1946 and later attended Colorado State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Colorado) where she earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in education. Dr. Spence earned her doctorate in education from the University of Denver in 1975. Mary married her husband, Melvin, in 1949. They had been married nearly 56 years at the time of her death. The Spences lived in Center and Brush, Colorado, before moving to Pueblo. There will be no viewing. Cremation, Montgomery & Steward Crematorium. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 3, 2005, at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 107 E. Routt Avenue. In lieu of flowers and food, a memorial gift to the Make A Wish Foundation, through the funeral home, would be appreciated. Online condolences, www.montgomerysteward.com

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Memories Timeline


  1. Mary and I were classmates graduating from South along with Mel. I remember her from those days so long ago.
    Our lives took similar paths. My degrees were from UNC and I was an elementary principal in Cherry Creek for 30 years. I knew of Morton Elementary in Pueblo but had no idea that Mary taught there.
    My prayers are with the family.

  2. I met Mary in 9th grade at Byers Jr. High School. I stood next to her in the class picture. We were both the same height. I am now 6’4″
    and weigh lots more. Mary was a class act all the way. I will rember her and her family in my prayers and send condolences to her family.

  3. What a darling, talented girl she was at South High School and as a Sigma Kappa sister at The University of Denver when I knew her. All best wishes to the family. Her wonderful qualities live on.

  4. I remember my classmate from South High School, class of ’46 as a loveable cheerful girl who always had a smile for everyone. I send my prayers and wishes for her family.

  5. Mel and family, We were so heart broken to hear of Mary’s passing. She was a wonderful mentor and such a delightful free spirit. We will miss her.

  6. Mary was remembered during the Fremont Youth & Chamber Orchestras’ Concert in the Park series last evening in Florence – not with a moment of silence, but with a moment of music. We think she would have liked that better. She is sadly missed by all of us.

    On behalf of the Orchestras,

  7. Dear Melvin, Marcia, AnnaLee,David and all the rest of the family,

    You are in my thoughts and prayers at this time of loss. May the LORD wrap you in His love, may you feel His abiding presence and may He provide comfort in the ways each of you most needs. Love, Shelly

  8. My mom just mailed me Mary’s obituary and I felt so saddened, and wanted to send my condolences to the entire family. I remember touring Austria with Mary and the Pueblo Symphony when I was in my second year of college. She was SO WONDERFUL. She was incredibly outrageous, said exactly what she thought, was totally inspiring and wonderfully upbeat and fun. Loved her stories. It was always a joy to see her. I wish you all much love and comfort through this time of her passing. Love, Jessie Shaw

  9. Mary was my first viola teacher, and remains my ideal of a first teacher. She taught the basics well, she played with a tone and style that I wanted to emulate, and was an experienced, well rounded musician. Most important, though, was her constant encouragement to seek out the many playing and learning opportunities that were available in Pueblo at the time. Looking back, I can now appreciate her generosity of spirit, found in only the rarest of teachers, including her long time friend, Zona Miller. I was a lucky lad to have two early teachers like Mary and Zona.

    Later (when I was old enough!), I particularly enjoyed Mary’s sense of humor. I was blessed, and Pueblo was blessed, to have a teacher like Mary Spence. My condolences to her family.

  10. Dear Mel and Marcie and Family,
    My deepest condolences. The memories of Mary’s friendliness, dedication to the fields of eduction and music, her energy, her humor will be with me always. I remember her and the quartet so graciously consenting to play at my wedding in 2000. My heart goes out to you at your loss.

  11. Dearest Marcia,

    We never had the opportunity to meet your mother personally, but you spoke of her with such fondness. Your enthusiasm to share your music, love for life, and passion to educate must have been her traits as well. We are so sorry for your loss… .

  12. They say that you have achieved much if you made a difference in the life of one child while Mary made a difference in many, many children’s lives! We count our family fortunate to have known her and send our love & prayers to Mel and their entire family.

  13. Ann….it seems you are so much like your Mom, God Rest Her Soul. What a special lady.

    I wish peace, love, and hugs to your and yours. I wish I were there. God Bless You All!

  14. Living at a distance and remembering the Mary I knew, I never would suppose she could be ill. I will always remember her as the dynamo she was. My sincere condolences to you, Mel, and to your family.

  15. Mel, I am so sorry to learn of Mary’s passing. She was such a great person and an inspiration to all who knew her. May the Lord comfort you in this time of sorrow and know that I am thinking of you. Keith

  16. Marcia dear, I am truly saddened to learn of your Mother’s death. I am grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to know her even a little. I liked her immediately and could tell what a remarkable individual she was. I’ll be here for you when you return to Columbia. Please express my condolences to the members of your family.

  17. I wanted to express my deepest sympathies and send condolences from my family. Although I never met Dr. Spence, I have known her son, Mike, for the past five years. I wanted to let him and his family know that they are in our prayers at this time.

  18. I work in the education field and can only hope to someday be an educational leader like Mary. She was an inspiration and a joy to know.

  19. Mary was such a great example and positive influence in our lives. I know our dad so enjoyed working with her. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. With Love, The family of Dr. Norris Anderson

  20. Mary was a bright shining star and we will miss her wit and humor (plus exceptional talent) in the Fremont Chamber Orchestra.

  21. Dear Mel,
    Mary was a lovely lady, feisty, genuine, and down-to-earth.
    My deepest sympathy.
    With regards,
    Joy Vining

  22. Mrs. Spence has had a huge impact on my family. I can’t begin to say how much we admire her and what a great influence she has been. She told me that the way she paid her tithes was to share her music with people. Her music was her praise and she shared it with me and my children. She also was a very supportive person to me when I really needed it. I give you my condolences and offer my support. If I can be of any help I am here.

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