PORTLAND – Jack Spiegel, described as a “giving man” by friends and family alike, passed on his philanthropic drive to his grandson, David Spiegel, when the boy was very young.

“He gave (his grandson) some money so he could research and find a place to give the money,” said his daughter-in-law, Nancy Spiegel. “He wanted to get him involved early.”

Laura Young, vice president of philanthropy at the Maine Community Foundation, said one of Mr. Spiegel’s favorite stories is about the donation his grandson made to a children’s hospital near his home in Texas.

“He just loved to tell that story over and over. How (his grandson) walked through the hospital to make sure that it was the place he wanted to give his money,” Young said. “He was tickled that it was being carried on through his grandson.”

Even at 92 years old, Mr. Spiegel continued to give to his community, kept busy and sang “You Are My Sunshine” to his wife of 63 years, Anne, every morning.

Mr. Spiegel, who died Saturday, was originally from Massachusetts. He and his wife fell in love with Maine on their honeymoon. They moved here shortly after they were married, and together they founded Quoddy Moccasins.

Even though his degree from Amherst College was in liberal arts, not business, Mr. Spiegel quickly turned Quoddy Moccasins into a successful, nationally known brand.

“He’d say. ‘You have to know about a lot of things, and that is how you succeed in the narrow field you take,’ ” his daughter-in-law said.

Mr. Spiegel’s grandson remembers how he always advised “not to be afraid of your own decisions.”

As a scoutmaster when his sons where young, he was given the title “Chief Quoddy.”

“All the kids loved him,” his daughter-in-law said.

Not only did Mr. Spiegel provide financial support to a number of community organizations, he donated large parcels of land for preservation. When his grandson visited during summers, Mr. Spiegel would give the young boy action figures to play with. But he told his daughter-in-law he did not want to be remembered for that.

“ ‘I want to be the grandfather that he remembers planting trees with,’ ” Nancy Spiegel recalls him saying.

Mr. Spiegel took time to plant chestnut trees, teaching his grandson to not only nurture community, but nurture the land.

Young, of the Maine Community Foundation, said that as the founder of the Cumberland County chapter, Mr. Spiegel was pleased to know the foundation’s resources were helping nonprofit organizations in the county.

“He was a wonderful person who always had a twinkle in his eyes,” she said.

“He had an unbelievable amount of energy for a man in his 90s,” said Mr. Spiegel’s caretaker, Judy Bertram. “He once said to me that the idea of getting up in the morning and having things to do, a schedule and things to accomplish was of paramount importance to him.”

Which was probably one reason he continued walking every morning, his daughter-in-law said.

“He walked all the time. He tried two miles a day up until three months ago,” she said. “He walked and talked to people.”

“He knew everything about Portland, who lived where and the businesses,” she said. One businessman she spoke with said, “You never knew when Jack was going to show up. He just liked to visit.”

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]