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Who Was Thelma Spencer?

Spencer Cutting the Ribbon
Thelma Spencer cutting the ribbon the day Spencer Park opened.

Thelma Spencer was a life-long resident of this area. She was born in Addison Township on a farm on Lake George Road in 1911. When she was in 3rd grade her family moved into Rochester. She went through elementary and high school at the site where the Rochester Schools Administration offices are now located and she graduated in 1928, with honors. After graduation she attended Pontiac Business Institute.

She married Laird Spencer in 1933 and they were blessed with a son whom they named Laird Jr.

In 1938 she started her career in township government at the old township hall at 407 Pine Street, when the township clerk recommended her to the treasurer for some temporary tax work. She later served as deputy clerk for 15 years. She was elected Avon Township Clerk in 1961.  

Spencer Planting a Tree
Thelma Spencer planting a tree at Spencer Park.

 
Thelma always tried to accommodate the citizens of the Township. During the early 1970s two local sisters who were away at college were excited to be eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election. The state legislature had just lowered the voting age. They came home to register and Thelma was not going to be in the office. It seems she had broken her leg and was home recuperating. She told them to come to her house and she would register them there. They loved to tell the story of getting their voter cards in Mrs. Spencer’s kitchen.

Thelma Spencer served Avon Township for 42 years. She believed that common sense, courtesy, and respect were necessary in making township decisions…and a slice of her homemade pecan pie didn’t hurt either.

Thelma Spencer was still involved in many activities in the city at the time of her death on January 9, 2000. She is remembered as a community giant and a trusted friend. Somewhere in Thelma Spencer Park on John R Road there might be a park bench where you can sit and seek her wisdom. 

Source: Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm


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