The Poolesville area and the Monocle lost a great friend in the passing of Jim Spory on May 31. The son of James and Thelma Spory, he was born in Somerset, Pennsylvania in 1935. Jim and his wife, Shirley, were married for fifty-three years.
Jim is well remembered for his passionate love of life and family, and for his joy in sharing wonderful and meaningful stories, poetry, and jokes.
Jim worked for Bell Atlantic, C&P Telephone Company, and Verizon. At C&P he often worked strange hours in even stranger places, fixing phone cables with hands that were progressively being affected by the onset of arthritis. His hands began to shrivel up, and fixing cable wasn’t something he was supposed to do. He still continued to climb the poles and fix the cable until he met a tragic challenge that forced him to go to a desk job for the rest of his career. In 1974, just two months before the birth of his second child and first daughter, he was held up at gunpoint by two individuals while working for the phone company. He survived, although he almost didn’t make it. He was shot in the leg and became twenty-five percent disabled.
After retirement, he was able to devote more time to one of his passions from his youth, wood craftsmanship. Even with the pain and crippling impact of arthritis, Jim created award-winning crafts using a scrollsaw and jigsaw.
Using almost any kind of wood, Jim produced holiday candles and plantholders, as well as tree ornaments worthy of any artist. The arthritis slowed his work since the effect was a bit like working while wearing boxing gloves. Nevertheless, he took first place at the Montgomery County Fair in the craftsmanship category of Miniatures. In addition, in 2004, he was also awarded the overall grand prize as the best craftsman for all categories—not bad for a man who had most of his knuckles removed by surgery.
Many of the ornaments he crafted were sold to benefit his beloved Odd Fellows Lodge 97.
His smiling face has graced the front page of the Monocle nearly every December since 2005. We started out with him on the cover with an article, “The Heart of an Angel, the Spirit of a Fighter,” with his personal and heartwarming story that was perfect for the Christmas season. Mr. Spory’s story was about beating the odds, about taking on difficult challenges that you are not supposed to win, and about believing in miracles (the entire article can be read at monocleonline.com). After featuring him on the December front page a couple of more times in a row for his work with the Odd Fellows, a tradition was established, and we continued the practice through last year. One year when he wasn’t available, we used his grandaughter Kaydence, to fill in for him just to save his space.
His ability to take on big challenges began in high school when he wrestled on his father’s team. Back then, Jim only weighed 127 pounds, but he wrestled at the 154-pound weight class. Everyone thought he was too light. Jim wrestled anyway. Jim brought his passion for wrestling to Poolesville High School when he helped coach its team in the late eighties and early nineties.
After surviving the violent criminal attack and severe athritis in his hands, he worked hard to recover from a car accident that most believed he would not survive.
Jim is also survived by son Luke Spory of Virginia Beach, daughter Rachel Harper and her husband John of New Windsor, Maryland, and grandaughter Kaydence. He is also survived by brother David Spory and wife Dorothy, sister-in-law Susan Hurley. He was preceded in death by brother Dale, and sisters Doris Spory and Joann Scott.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Odd Fellows Lodge 97, P.O. Box 252, Poolesville, MD 20837.