John Spencer Jones

YARMOUTH – John Spencer Jones was an optimistic man. He was born on Feb. 8, 1936, and grew up on a farm near Walla Walla, Wash., where he learned to set big goals and achieve them. That optimism was on display when he decided to leave the farm and come east to study physics at Williams College despite never having been to New England. The Navy and Harvard Business School soon followed. He met his future wife, Susan, of 62 years, through her brother John, who was Spencer’s fraternity brother. Spencer died on April 6, 2024, after a long and brave battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

His optimism in business ran rampant. He farmed wheat in Washington state, and worked at paper plants in Vancouver, Wash.; Erie, Pa.; and Westbrook.

He made molded urethane reproductions at his factory in Freeport and cannons and nautical fittings at his non-ferrous foundry in Gardiner. He later managed commercial real estate across New England. He was never afraid to try something new.

While he was well known in downtown Portland for his civic engagement and natty bow ties, what is more important to know is that Spencer had confidence he could help people. From helping the elderly file their taxes, to helping coach a Vex Robotics Team at Yarmouth High School, to various nonprofit boards, he was continually trying to help others.

Music was a lifelong passion for Spencer. He played the trombone for most of his life, starting in the 8th grade, then as a part of Phinney’s Favorite Five and other bands in college, and on summer tours in Europe with different bands. He could often be heard at the Yarmouth Clam Festival playing with the Royal River Philharmonic Jazz Band.

Spencer was also blessed with many friends and a large family. He could be found with them wherever he lived and he was surrounded by them when he died.

He is survived by his wife, Susan; and his children Spencer (Emily), Julie (Michael) and Peter (Jennifer). He will be missed by his grandchildren Louisa, Maia, Benjamin, Jack, Casey (Julie), Benji (Madeline), Sammy, Henry (Harley); and two great-grandsons, Finn and Eli. He is also survived by his brothers Madison and Michael Jones, and brothers and sisters-in-law John and Denny Palmer and Fred and Pat Palmer.

There will be a celebration of Spencer’s life in the summer.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Spencer’s name to: Habitat for Humanity

of Greater Portland


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