June 8, 1929 – February 5, 2017
William David Spellman known to his friends and loved ones as “Bill,” and to his beloved children as “Dad,” born June 8, 1929 passing into God’s light February 5, 2017 at the age of 87.
Bill was born and raised in Clay Center, Kansas, the only son of David L. and Sadie M. (Zinke) Spellman. Bill was a complex man with manifold interests that would be developed throughout his lifetime. What follows is but a glimpse into the breadth of his diverse life. An avid dog lover, after graduating High School, he purchased an Indian Chief motorcycle and headed to Mississippi where he trained hound dogs for hunting. Continuing on his motorcycle journey, he rode his Indian down to Texas to stay with relatives and work with their hunting dogs. It was June of 1948 and Bill decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corp where, as it turned out, he was able to pursue both of these interests. He was assigned as an M.P. patrolling the naval supply depot in Oakland, California on an Indian Chief motorcycle, and taking charge of his platoon’s bulldog mascot. Before being honorable discharged in 1952, Bill had become a drill instructor holding the rank of Staff Sergeant.
After his service, Bill decided to take an entirely different course for his life and embraced his artistic interests. He headed for Colorado and as fate would have it, met and was befriended by Angelo diBenedetto, a nationally known artist living in Central City. Angelo instructed his new student in art appreciation courses, with oil paints and free hand sketching as his preferred mediums. Bill and Angelo would eventually establish a line of greeting cards under the name Benman Cards. To this day folks treasure these greeting cards.
Upon arriving in Colorado, Bill had booked a room at the Gilpin Hotel in Black Hawk, and by bribing a local boy Doug Prentice to introduce him, he met his future bride, Dolores M. Blake. Dolores’s parents, Otto and Ruth Blake, were the proprietors of the Gilpin Hotel. Bill had always been a man of deep spiritual faith and after being introduced to the Catholic faith by Dolores and her mother, Ruth, he converted to Catholicism. Following a beautiful courtship they were married on September 26, 1954. Bill continued his artistic interests and pursued correspondence courses in writing from the Newspaper Institute of America, The Magazine Institute, Benson Barrett, Publishers and Denver University Community College. Becoming a news director at Radio Station KGOL, in Golden, he gained notoriety for reporting on the first employee strike at Coors Brewing Company. Bill then went to work for Colorado Delivery, the distributor for Coors beer in the Denver metro area, then on to the distributor for Olympia beer when that brewer entered the Colorado market. This was a decision, in hindsight, that was not that well thought out as Olympia beer never gained a following in Colorado. The “I told you so” came from Bill’s father-in-law, Otto, as he was a life-long Coor’s man working for the Golden brewery for 23 years. Spirited banter had taken place between the two of them with Otto holding the prevailing wisdom.
Bill would eventually find his employment calling becoming a professional corporate fund raiser first for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and finally with America Cancer Research where he retired in 1999. It was at M.D.A., he met a fellow who would become his best friend, Joe Stack. The two of them were known to imbibe in a few adult beverages, play a few hours of pool and maybe take in a horse or dog race, perhaps all in the same day. Joe visited his friend right up to Bill’s final days.
Bill was a guitar enthusiast, in earlier years playing just about every Saturday evening with former Black Hawk Mayor Ernie Wright. The two even made a recording of their sessions together. This was a hobby he enjoyed until about a year ago when his hands were to arthritic to play.
Bill and Dolores’s union was blessed with three children: Sandy, Mark, and David. His writing talents were put to good use by writing his children letters and notes of encouragement throughout his life. Continuing on his spiritual and faith-based journey, Bill studied to become a Deacon in the Catholic Church and on May 9, 1981, was ordained and faithfully carried out his duties at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Central City. After his family, Bill considered this the most rewarding and significant accomplishment of his life. His faith and instruction was an inspiration and comfort to his family and many others.
On September 26, 2016, Bill and Dolores celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. At Bill’s passing, besides his loving wife and three loving children: Sandy Hill; Mark (CinDee); and, David (Lynnette); sister-in-law Linda Armbright; seven grandchildren; nine great grandchildren and a nephew in Kansas; many dear and loving friends who will miss his smile, laughter, generosity and fellowship.
Bill’s was a full and wonderful life with one true great love and many adventures…he is now with Our Lord Jesus and pain free for the first time in many years. His was a life well-lived and he will be remembered with love, gratitude and deep affection.
Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Dad. Bill was funny, caring, complex and yes, one of a kind. His strength and love will never be forgotten.
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