Day 4: Gene R. Spence

Oct 3, 2011 | 0 comments

The chapel at the funeral home was filled to capacity to honor the life of Gene R. Spence. He was celebrated and remembered as a man who loved life, family, friends, music and model trains.

His photo and a picture of a railroad locomotive were projected on the screen at the front of the room with the inscription In Loving Memory: February 23, 1947 – September 28, 2011. Flowers surrounded a table display of significant items: a plaque with the family crest, a picture of Gene and his wife, three pictures of trains, a bottle of Coke Classic, and a cap with the seal of the Albuquerque Society of HO Model Engineers (ASHOME). Out in the lobby were photo montage boards of Gene throughout his life, a model of the New Mexico Rail Runner train, and a book about guitars.

Fred Morton, who has known Gene since 1963 when they met at UNM band camp, spoke eloquently of his longtime friend. He spoke of his early involvement with trains, both riding them and serving three terms as president of ASHOME. He spoke of his musical ability and his perfect ear for pitch and melody. He enjoyed playing guitar, violin and fiddle, as well as giving his granddaughter violin lessons.

“He was my best friend over 48 years,” said Fred, who then read this passage about friends and friendship from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love
and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger,
and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you
fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor
do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases
not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all
thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born
and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may
be clearer in his absence, as the mountain
to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship
save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure
of its own mystery is not love but a net cast
forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide,
let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek
him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not
your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let
there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its
morning and is refreshed.

John Jones, another longtime friend and train enthusiast, offered warm memories of the many and said, “Gene, you boarded the eternal train too soon, but I hope you enjoy the ride.”

Chaplain Lem Boyles recited the 23rd Psalm and offered a homily on shepherds and stained glass windows. He reminded us of the stark reality of how short life can be and to realize how precious it is.

Music was the other theme that ran throughout the service. Five country songs were played, starting with “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney, about life going by fast, “Land of Enchantment” by Michael Martin Murphey, “I’m Seein’ My Father in Me” by Paul Overstreet, “Keeper of the Stars” by Tracy Byrd, and the exit song was “Here for a Good Time” by George Strait. The chorus goes like this:

I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time
So bring on the sunshine
To hell with the red wine
Pour me some moonshine
When I’m gone, put it in stone
He left nothing behind
I ain’t here for a long time
I’m here for a good time

The family held a reception at the funeral home after the service. As the chaplain said in his committal prayer, “It’s no accident that so many people are here. He has touched many lives, and for that we are grateful.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lupus Foundation of America – New Mexico Chapter, P.O. Box 9125, Albuquerque, NM 87119.

Day 4: Gene R. Spence
A Good Goodbye