Robert Spencer, 58, beloved Husband, Father, Brother, and Son was called to his eternal resting place on September 14, 2020. He entered this world on July 23, 1962, in El Paso, TX, born to Vera and Herbert Spencer. A celebration of his life will be held at Christ’s Church in Roswell — 2200 North Sycamore Avenue — this Saturday, September 19, 2020, at 10 AM.
Robert never knew a stranger — to him, everyone was family. With his warm spirit, booming laugh, and big smile — the things his wife, children, and all those who have been blessed to know him remember most fondly — he created community wherever he went. Whether at his place of work, in the lobby of his doctor’s office, or even in the frozen foods section of the grocery store, Robert’s disarming presence and heartfelt, often hilarious, conversation put people at ease and brightened their days. They were his daily invitations to be welcomed into his family. And for Robert, family was always at the heart of everything he did.
Robert was so many things to so many people. Cherished Husband, soulmate, and partner-in-crime to a woman he loved and adored for 38 years and whom loved and adored him the same until their last goodbye and their next meeting. Beloved Father of two proud sons, champion of all they did, and lifelong teacher of how to be good men, honest husbands, tireless fathers, and hard workers (“We are Mexican — not Mexi-Can’t”). Brother to five heartbroken siblings, protector and provider in their youth and confidant, advisor, and shoulder to lean on as they grew. Joyous Grandfather, Pa, and sometimes Paul (when they couldn’t pronounce it) to eight eternally-loved grand babies — he was driver of the Big Red Truck, constant giver of toys, treats, and great-big bear hugs, and mender of skinned knees, bad moods, and broken hearts. And second father, first boss, provider of sanctuary in times of need, generous of spirit (and meals), and so much more to so many others.
Robert, or Spencer, as many liked to call him, loved music. From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Eminem, Reba to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Toby Keith to Toby Mac — as long as it had a good beat and fine lyrics, Spencer grooved to it. He loved to fix things, especially cars — even when he had no idea what he was doing. He spent many happy, grease-covered (and sometimes swear-filled) hours working with his sons on their old Mercury and then their faded, red Camaro. He also taught his boys how to iron, and he personally made sure his wife’s clothes were clean and wrinkle free each and every morning of their marriage. “Mijo, you’ve only used enough starch when the clothes stand up on their own.” Fishing was a favorite hobby (although catching was a different story). He was a Coors aficionado, enjoyed his Crown Royal, and rewarded himself with a cigar from time to time. But most often he needed nothing more than the company of his family and friends — and some good music — to celebrate life. He was loyal (as only a lifelong Cowboys fan can be). And although he lived most of his life in New Mexico, he was a Texan at heart. But even when his favorite team was playing, “Sundays were for family.”
Spencer was born in El Paso, Texas July 23, 1962, to Vera and Herbert Spencer. He was the second eldest of five siblings, his two brothers, Edward and Peter, and three sisters, Lulu, Cindy, and Laura. He was born into a family with little besides each other. But it was the hard circumstances and adversities which defined his early life and childhood that shaped Spencer into a lifelong warrior for his family. Through elbow grease, ingenuity, and perseverance, he learned to grow a little into a lot. Even before he was a teen, he took as many odd jobs as he could find to help put food on the table, help his mom keep the lights on, and make sure that even though his brothers and sisters sometimes went without, they never went with nothing.
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It was through this dedication to his family that Spencer eventually met the girl who would become the love of his life, father of his children, and matriarch of his own family. During high school, he spent early mornings working different jobs and was late to school almost every morning. However, that gave him an excuse to see Paula, his crush, every day as she picked up the tardy slips from each class. In turn, it was the highlight of most of Paula’s mornings to make sure that Spencer’s tardy slips never made it to the principal’s office. Partners in crime from the beginning.
Paula and Spencer started dating shortly after high school. Since Spencer spent most of every paycheck on his family — bills for the lights, clothes and makeup for his sisters, and going-out money for his brothers — their first dates were often just walking in the fresh air and talking with one another. That was alright with Paula because Spencer always kept her laughing. After two weeks, Spencer knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. So, he sold the car he loved to pay for rings and a wedding four months later. Spencer would tell you it was the best decision he ever made.
At twenty-two, on February 27, 1985 Spencer’s first child — Robert Henry Spencer Jr. — was born. At twenty-five, on January 6, 1988, Spencer’s second child — Adam Ismael Spencer — was born. These were two of the happiest days of his life. Spencer always tried to ensure his family — his two growing boys and his beautiful wife — knew how important they were to him, and at the same time, instill in them how important family should be to them. One of their most cherished memories as a young family, was time they spent together every weekend going to see Paula’s father, a gifted musician, play in his band. With liquid courage (from non-alcoholic Shirley Temples) the boys would dance to the music, snugged between Spencer and Paula, for hours. Stepped on toes, great music, big smiles, and sticky, Shirley-Temple red fingers and faces — Spencer loved it all. Mostly, because his family was happy.
The most important inheritance Spencer left Rob Jr. and Adam was how to be men of character, good men who could be caring fathers, honest and loyal husbands, committed and intelligent professionals, and humans of both strength and compassion. And he lived long enough to know that he was successful. Spencer witnessed them grow, take wives of their own, and bring happy and healthy babies into the world. In this trying time, both of his sons are comforted by the memory of their father on the days his first grandchildren, Giana (12) and Trais (9) were born. He waited outside of their hospital rooms, pacing nervously up and down the corridors, checking constantly on everyone — How were they doing? Did they need anything to eat? What about to drink? — and telling any stranger (and soon-to-be family member) about his future grand babies and who he thought they would grow to be. And when he finally got to the chance to hold each of his grandchildren for the first time, his sons both remember how big his smile was. It was the same, joyful, ear-to-ear grin he wore to welcome each of his children’s children into the world. He recently celebrated the first birthdays of his twin grand babies, Iris and Poppy.
Spencer worked many careers because from an early age, he selected a single profession — family man. But toward the end of his life, he felt that he had finally found his calling. To the surprise of none of his family, he found purpose in helping others. For Spencer, work always represented a pathway to care for and support his family, to provide them with better lives. This is what fulfilled him. In his new profession, as a workforce counselor, he was given the chance to connect those in need with opportunities to do what he had done all his life — work hard to provide a good life for his family. During the pandemic, he was deeply moved by all those who had lost their jobs and was personally struck by the stories of their struggles to feed and support their families — and how similar those struggles were to his own as a child and young man. He felt it was his mission to help them. So he took calls, counseled those that were hurting, and worked to help them find work even when he wasn’t on the clock, over weekends, and most recently during the Labor Day holiday.
In this way, he spent the end of his life, as he lived it from the beginning: doing what he could to help others in need.
Robert was a good man of strong faith beloved by many. He is survived by his beloved wife of 38 years, Paula Spencer; his two sons, who he took immense pride in, Adam and Robert “Rob” Spencer Jr.; his brothers, Edward and Peter Spencer; his sisters, Cindy Bustamante and Laura Spencer-Andrade; and his eight beautiful grandchildren who he adored, Giana, Max, Vivian, Eleanor, Iris, Poppy, Trais, and Blaise.
Robert was preceded in death by his mother, Vera Spencer, father, Herbert Spencer, and sister, Lulu Spencer.
If you’re reading this, Spencer likely considered you a member of his community and family. If he were here today, he would request that you honor his life and legacy by cherishing your family and loved ones and taking a moment today to laugh and enjoy life.