Merilyn Sondles Spencer, 82, of Ellington, Conn., beloved wife of James H. Spencer, passed away peacefully at home on January 4, 2017, surrounded by family.
She was born in Sistersville, West Virginia on November 26, 1934 to Merrill C. and Elizabeth (Anderson) Sondles (both deceased).
She attended schools in Sistersville, graduated from Sistersville High School and began college at Denison University in Granville, Ohio in 1952. While at Denison, she became affiliated with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, continuing that relationship when she transferred to West Virginia University her sophomore year. Merilyn, nicknamed “Mimi” by her many friends, graduated with honors at WVU in 1956 with a BA in secondary education and membership in an English honorary.
Along with some college associates, she accepted a teaching assignment at High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland in the fall of 1956.
On April 20, 1957, she and James Spencer were united in marriage, the ceremony being held at the First Presbyterian Church in Sistersville, WV. Following a short honeymoon at Strickland’s Lodge in the Poconos, the couple returned to Hyattsville, Maryland while Jim completed his ROTC commitment at Fort Meade. She then accompanied him to Columbus, Ohio while he completed his degree work at Ohio State University. Once again she found herself in a teaching role at Upper Arlington High, an enjoyable experience cut short by the joyful arrival of their first child, Stephen Merrill – a real honest to goodness ‘buckeye.’ Upon Jim’s graduation, the family moved to Connecticut as Jim was offered employment at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft.
Finally settling in Vernon, Mimi became active in the Jr. Women’s Club of Manchester, a neighborhood bridge group, and the First Congregational Church of Vernon where she served as a deacon and sang in the choir. She enjoyed her neighborhood immensely, as it was populated by many new people of the Pratt & Whitney hiring boom.
In February of 1962, daughter Jill Mayfield was born. With two small children, teaching was put on hold while school activities at elementary, middle, and Rockville High School took priority. Around 1980, the family moved to a center chimney cape with 8 acres of pasture in Broad Brook. Both Mimi and Jill loved horses, so naturally raising Appaloosa horses followed. Now with the children older, Mimi returned to the classroom, spending 12 years at Hartford Public High School, while at the same time earning her Master’s Degree at CCSU. During this time, the family also established a residence in Palm Coast, Florida, which provided a getaway from the harsh New England winters. She became active in the Trinity Presbyterian Church, serving as a deacon, singing in the church choir, and was a founding member of the Community Chorus of Palm Coast. In addition, the family moved from the farm and 8 acres to a free-standing condo in Ellington – no more mowing or snow plowing. The First Congregational Church of East Windsor (Scantic Church), led by Pastor Thomas Calderone, became our new church home.
Mimi enjoyed traveling and did so with Jim for pleasure and on many of his business trips when possible. A most notable trip was from California to Belgrade on a delivery flight of a MD-80 aircraft to Yugoslavia for Inex Adria Airways. We often joked that it would be easier to name the places we haven’t been as opposed to where we have been.
Mimi accompanied Jim on his year-long assignment in Singapore for Pratt & Whitney and loved living there. From the people, to attending a lavish Chinese dinner in Bejing, to climbing the Great Wall and vacationing on Tioman Island, Mimi enjoyed a full and wonderful life with Jim. She was an incredible, loving mother for her children Steve and Jill. Her strength, her ability to always embrace life, and most importantly, her determination to live life to the fullest, are just a few of the gifts that Mimi has passed on to everyone who was fortunate enough to have known her.
She is survived by her husband Jim, son Stephen, his wife Anna and daughters Audrey and Evelyn; daughter Jill, her husband Steve Honeycomb and daughter Paige; her sister Nancy Janiszewski and husband George; numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces. Her older sister Betty Locke Buck passed away in October of 2016.
A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 11 a.m. at the First Congregational Church of East Windsor, 124 Scantic Road, East Windsor, Connecticut. Interment will take place in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the charity of your choice.
Ladd-Turkington & Carmon Funeral Home in Vernon is caring for the arrangements. For online condolences and guest book, please visit www.carmonfuneralhome.com.