Evelynne Elizabeth Troyer Spencer died peacefully in her sleep in her Hiram, OH home on April 15, 2017. She was born to Walter and Alta Mowl Troyer on December 16, 1917 in Aurora, OH, Portage County in the Connecticut Western Reserve.
Her father’s family was of Mennonite heritage. Her parents lived on adjoining farms on Aurora-Hudson Road, then after marriage they moved down the road to the Old Kent House where Evelynne was born. They moved to Stow, where she attended the first five grades of school, then to the historic Deacon-Earle house in Windham. It was brick and completely original: no heat except seven fireplaces, no running water, no electricity, and a crane for cooking pots still in the kitchen. It was Evelynne’s favorite childhood home but not her mother’s, and after four years they moved to a farm on Hankee Road in Hiram. This was in the depth of the Great Depression, in 1932.
The move to Hiram was a good one for Evelynne, as the school children she met were bright and serious and she was very competitive. She was part of a close circle of friends (May and Ruth Garver, Mary Edson and Charles Reynard, Mary Elizabeth Fisher, Harriet Allyn, Philip Turner, Edward Crecelius, Richard Spencer) who thrived at Hiram High School under progressive principal, Reign Hadsell. She and all her friends were active in choir and band and sang in the choir of Hiram Christian Church. In 1934 Hiram High School won the Small School State Championship for Mixed Chorus. Evelynne graduated in 1935 and went directly to Hiram College (class of 1939) where she majored in sociology and sang in the select Small Ensemble, predecessor of the Madrigal Singers.
She married Richard Spencer in 1939. During his Army service in World War II she lived with his family in the M. E. Baker home in Hiram (a large mansard Victorian house with stone bridge and pond, property now known as The Lily Ponds). In 1947 Evelynne and Richard bought a farmhouse and thirty acres of land in Hiram Village from his grandfather Baker, where they have lived for seventy years.
Evelynne worked for 23 years in the Hiram Post Office, a job that came to her casually through her friend Mary Elizabeth Fisher whose father was Hiram postmaster. She enjoyed knowing everyone in the community through the post office. She was active in Hiram School PTA, the Hiram Fellowship, Hiram Wednesday Club and History Club. She served on the original Portage County Library organizing board and various Hiram College committees. She had a beautiful soprano voice and sang for more than 50 years in the choir of Hiram Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and was an enthusiastic attendee at Hiram College music events until late in her life.
On Evelynne’s retirement from the Post Office in 1972, she was featured in an article in the local Record-Courier. Her old high school principal Reign Hadsell read it and contacted her, suggesting a class reunion in Hiram. This soon occurred, bringing the high school friends back together. Mr. Hadsell then visited Hiram numerous times through the 1980s, resulting in his establishment of The Hiram Community Trust which has greatly benefited the village, campus, and township by providing funds for arts, beautification and other projects.
Evelynne loved to travel. Her retirement brought six trips to the British Isles, three of them driving adventures with Richard, and three on her own studying church music and bell ringing in London, and Shakespeare, theater and history on Hiram College trips led by professors John Shaw and Roland Layton. Evelynne was an avid reader of English literature and was a founding member of the Hiram Hounds mystery book club led by Wilson Hoffman.
She and Richard also made countless driving trips through New England and across the U.S. For many years they maintained a winter home in Eustis, FL in company with many other people from Portage County.
In February 2014, Evelynne and Richard’s family held a gala 75th Wedding Anniversary celebration in their honor which was attended by a large number of family and friends. On that occasion her gregarious nature and general joie de vivre were still evident. The family will miss her down-to-earth common sense, her wit and her dramatic storytelling. Happily, just after her 99th birthday in December 2016, she still read aloud fluently several chapters of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at a family reading.
Evelynne is survived by her beloved husband of 78 years, Richard Woodrow Spencer; son Gary DeLand Spencer (Mary) of Hiram; daughters Tina Spencer Dreisbach (Paul) of Hiram and Tracy Spencer (Hank Davis) of Brooklin, ME; grandchildren Dawn Dreisbach of Framingham, MA; Jennifer Jankowski (Marc) of Medina; John Spencer Dreisbach (Janna) of Pacific Grove, CA; Brian Richard Spencer of Hiram; Julian Spencer Davis of South Orleans, MA; Vesta Victoria Davis of Chapel Hill, NC; and great-grandchildren Brittany Kline of Brooklyn, OH and Coben and Magdalena Dreisbach of Pacific Grove, CA. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews including Gail Troyer Hovey of Hiram who was her devoted caregiver in her last year, and by sister-in-law Marilane Spencer of Hiram.
Evelynne was predeceased by her parents, her brother Robert Troyer, her nephew Robert Troyer Jr. and all the friends of her youth except her husband and Grace Shively Ehresman of Ravenna.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. The family suggests written condolences to be sent to Richard W. Spencer, PO Box 277, Hiram, OH 44234. Memorial gifts in Evelynne’s name may be given to Friends of the Hiram College Library, PO Box 67, Hiram, OH 44234, or to the Hiram Historical Society, PO Box 1775, Hiram, OH 44234.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Mallory-DeHaven-Carlson Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 8382 Center St., Garrettsville , Ohio 44231.