Harry Patric Spencer obituary – The Reno Journal-Gazette and Mason Valley News

A University of Nevada graduate student-athlete with the writing in his veins “got rid of that deadly coil” when Harry Spencer died on August 20 at the age of 95. Harry’s father was in the Coast Guard, so as a child he traveled the East Coast with his parents and lived in New York, Connecticut, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey until he got his graduated from high school in 1940. The family then moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he attended St. Anthony Catholic High School and captained the state championship basketball team. Harry became an Air Corps cadet in 1943 and was put into reserve until his eighteenth birthday. In the summer of 1944, after graduating from high school, he entered the Army Specialty Training Reserve Program and summered at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn). In December 1944, he received a basketball scholarship from the University of Nevada (coach Jim Aiken) and spent the spring semester at the U of N. Despite cadet status, he was drafted into the US Army on its eighteenth birthday. Harry enlisted in basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida in the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Division. He left for Pusan, Korea in December 1945 and spent the next year there as an intelligence sergeant. He returned to the United States in January 1947 and attended Broward Business College in Ft. Lauderdale. In the fall of 1947, he returned to the University of Nevada. Harry played basketball in Nevada as well as the Reno City League and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1951. After a “blind date” on a tennis court in 1949 (and several other chaperoned appointments), Harry married Ann Richardson. in October 1950 and the two spent 70 years together. During this time, they had six children. The family lived in Reno and Incline Village. From 1950 to 1957, Harry was the editor of the state’s largest weekly, The Nevada Register. During this time, he also served as Reno City’s basketball and softball commissioner. From 1952 to 1960, he owned and published the weekly entertainment guide, Reno This Week. In 1958, he opened and operated his own public relations and advertising agency. Additionally, Harry was Founding President of the Reno Ad Club, Founding President of the Reno Media Press Club, Founding Director of the Reno Better Business Bureau, Founding Member of the Reno Chamber of Commerce Promotions Committee, President of Sierra Nevada Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association, Co-Chairman of Reno’s “Good Old Days” GOD Club, Public Information Officer for Attorney Les Fry – VFW National Commander, Weekly Columnist for the Sparks Tribune, Comstock Chronicle and Reno Gazette-Journal, Editor monthly for Senior Magazine Spectrum and Nevada Pack Edge magazine, writer for the University of Nevada’s Oral History Program and the Reno/Tahoe Guestbook as well as Charter Director for the Reno Chapter of the Navy League. Some of Harry’s favorite highlights include producing a live remote segment on the Ed Sullivan Show from the Sky Room at the Hotel Mapes, director of the International Olympic Press Club during the Winter Olympics in 1960, committee member for the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay from Squaw Valley to Reno, doing public relations for the cast and crew of “The Misfits” in 1960 while filming in northern Nevada, managing early films worldwide, including “Let’s Make Love”, “The Misfits”, “Downhill Racer”, “Bonanza” (TV); casting and location for the films “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College”, “Apartment For Peggy” and “Route 66” (TV); serving as press liaison for Frank Sinatra, Sr. during Frank Sinatra’s kidnapping, Jr., lead actor and casting director for a nationally aired United Airlines 60-Second commercial, including two Super Bowls, charter manager of the Virginia City Camel Races, charter marketing manager of championship air races Reno National, Director of the Reno Rodeo Promotion Committee, and Director of the Advertising Association of the West Producing and directing special events, as well as raising funds for charities associated with those special events, were areas in which Harry excelled as he was the director of the “Ski Champion” day held at Mt. Rose Ski Resort, producer of the Reno Pro Polo Indoor Match, director of the Mapes Invitational Golf Tournamen ts, director of Reno’s “Silver Spurs” Best Western Motion Picture/Television Actor, publicity and publicity for the Shrine Circus, director of the National Synchronized Swimming Championships, producer of the Reno Truck Show, marketing for Unlimited Hydroplane Courses in Lake Tahoe and Pyramid Lake, director of “Reno Day” promotion at Bay Meadows Race Track, public relations for International Snail Races in San Francisco, director of National Championship Snowmobile Races at Incline Village, and director of the Clint Eastwood Celebrity Tennis Tournament. Clients represented by Harry include: Mapes Hotel, Cal-Neva Lodge, Club Cal-Neva, Riverside Hotel, Palace Club, Primadonna Club, Hyatt Lake Tahoe, Tropicana Hotel (Las Vegas), Anderson Dairy, Crescent Creamery, Valley Bank, Pioneer Citizens Bank, American Federal Savings and Loan, Dean Witter, Sproul Homes, Stremmel Porsche/Volkswagen, Reno Sparks New Car Dealers Association, Reno Furniture, Gray Reid’s, Washoe County Fair and Recreation Board, March of Dimes, St. Mary’s Hospital, Blue Ribbon Markets, Davis Lake Subdivision, King’s Castle, Sierra Wine & Liquor, Pepsi Cola Bottling of Reno, New China Club, Tahoe Racquet Club, and Reno Airport Concessions. Harry had a penchant for politics and he enjoyed managing candidate campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. He particularly enjoyed writing their speeches and preparing the candidates for the debates, while they were on the campaign trail. Harry’s favorite celebrities to work with were Clark Gable, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Shirley Temple, Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Rowan & Martin, Ray Bolger and the ‘Bonanza’ cast. His favorite athletes were Sonny Liston, “Mean” Joe Green, Pancho Gonzales, Rod Laver, Rick Barry, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Jensen and “Dandy Don” Meredith. After competing in basketball and boxing, Harry’s favorite sports were tennis, squash and racquetball. He found the sport of pickleball very entertaining and thought its recent popularity was a great development for racquet sports. His favorite teams to back and support were all of the Nevada Wolf Pack sports teams, the Golden State Warriors, SF 49ers, and SF Giants. His favorite dish was steak and potatoes. Harry traveled the world with his wife Ann and his favorite place to visit was Lake Tahoe, especially sitting at the end of a pier sipping a cocktail and chatting with others and watching the waves crash after a full day of tennis and boating. With a wall full of awards, the three that stood out for him were a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Truckee Meadows Community College Special Events Class, an induction into the American Marketing Association Hall of Fame, and the winner of the national award for newspaper layout and writing. Harry was born in May 1927 in Staten Island New York to parents Margaret and Henry Spencer. He was predeceased by his parents, his wife Ann and two of his sons, Hugh and Paul. He is survived by four children; Molly, Ginny (Geno), Zach (Elaine), Luke (Sandy). Six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. The family would like to express their gratitude to Angel of Angel’s Angels for their final care. Thanks also to Eden Hospice. A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Keep Tahoe Blue through their website: www.keeptahoeblue.org “Now cracks a noble heart. Good evening sweet prince: And flights of angels sing your rest! (Shakespeare’s Hamlet 5.2.302-03)

Posted on August 24, 2022

Posted in Reno Gazette-Journal

Comments are closed.