Alumni Obituary - Donald Lawrence Spicer Skip to content

Alumni Obituary – Donald Lawrence Spicer

Donald Lawrence SpicerDonald Lawrence Spicer (WS’50) was born on August 16, 1927 to Elmer ‘Lawrence’ and Edith (Gamble) Spicer on their farmstead in Wessington, SD.  In 1937, the family moved to the Elmer J. Spicer homestead farm. Actively involved in the church, his family extended the Wessington Presbyterian Church and the children were baptized there, becoming members.  After 1937, the family attended an American Sunday School choir.

Don attended several schools in Beadle County, SD and the Berkshire & Brown Schools in Hand County, SD.  His education was interrupted during World War II to help operate the farm while his 2 brothers served.  During that time, he enrolled in the American School of Correspondence Chicago to finish high school. In 1947, Don attended Wessington Spicer Junior College until 1950, then Greenville University in Greenville, IL from 1950-1952.  From 1952-1955, he completed his education at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY where he received his M. DN degree.

On August 16, 1947, Don married Bethel Jean Orr.  During their union, they conceived 9 children, 2 of which only survived a few hours after birth: Jonathon and Hope. They were not childless though, Don and Bethel adopted 4 children – Debora joined them in 1954, followed by David in 1957, Danny in 1963 and Melody in 1965.  Not only were they blessed with their children, they also fostered 96 children.

In 1948, Don and Bethel joined the Free Methodist Church and he was ordained in 1952.  After graduating in 1955 from Asbury Seminary, Don was appointed to the Rapid City, SD Free Methodist Church.  The family then moved to Grand Forks where he helped design and build a church for the members there.  He served other churches during his time in the ministry in Minneapolis, MN; Mason City, IA; Stillwater, OK; and Woodward, OK.

In 1982, Don was transferred to Bethany Free Methodist Church near the small village of Amelia, NE until he retired in 1996.  He returned to the ministry, this time serving the O’Neill Wesleyan Church for another 6 years before retiring officially on December 1, 2002.  During his 43 years of active ministry, he was an active member in the area of Christian education program for the denomination.

Following a long and debilitating illness, his faithful and devout wife Bethel passed away on August 27, 2001, just after their 54th wedding anniversary.  On December 25, 2002, Don got married a second time to his longtime friend, Mary Newland in Temecula, CA.  Their union was cut short when Mary died on April 6, 2003.  This prompted Don to move back to O’Neill where he bought a house.

Upon his return, he befriended Elizabeth Ryding at the Golden Age Senior Center.  Their friendship quickly developed into a companionship.  Don asked for the blessing of her eldest son to take her hand in marriage, and they married on January 1, 2006 by Elizabeth’s eldest son, Rev. John Ryding at Christ Lutheran Church.  Elizabeth and Don made their home in O’Neill and attended both the Lutheran Church and Wesleyan Church in O’Neill, active in both congregations.

Don is survived by his wife of 16 years, Elizabeth Ryding-Spicer of O’Neill; four children, Debora Spicer of Wichita, KS, David (Robin) Spicer of Stillwater, OK, Danny (Stacy) Spicer of Woodward, OK, and Melody (Chuck) Halverson of Billings, MT; three step children, John (Kathryn) Ryding, David (Irene) Ryding, and Marilyn (Peter J) Giammaria; nieces, nephews, grandchildren, step grandchildren, great grandchildren; and sister-in-law, Ruth Spicer.

Don is preceded in death by his parents, Elmer ‘Lawrence’ and Edith Spicer; two wives, Bethel and Mary; son, Jonathon; daughter, Hope; brothers, Warren and Lyle Spicer, sister Doris; nieces, Gloria Spicer and Joyce Spicer; and 7 unborn children.

Memorial Services for Donald Spicer, age 94, of O’Neill, will be at 2:00 pm Saturday, January 29, 2022 at Christ Lutheran Church in O’Neill with Rev. John Nelson officiating.  Burial will follow in the O’Neill Cemetery.  Memorial Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.  Don succumbed to complications of Alzheimer’s Disease at Arbor Care Nursing Home in Neligh on January 23, 2022.  Memorials are preferred and may be directed to the Christ Lutheran Church’s Little Disciples Child Development Center in O’Neill.  Arrangements are entrusted to Biglin’s Mortuary in O’Neill.

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