Ralph Spencer III

Obituary of Ralph K. Spencer III

Ralph K. Spencer III

04/14/1945 – 01/26/2024


Ralph K. Spencer III, fondly known as RK, was born on April 14, 1945, to Ralph K. Spencer Jr. and Sue G. Gosiewski in Canton, Ohio, where he was raised.  He excelled in both scholastics and sports throughout his education.  After graduating from McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio, in 1963, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ohio Bowling Green State University in 1967, a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University in 1969, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Denver in 1980, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Metropolitan State College in 1984.  His four degrees did not stop his zest for learning.  He became a life-long student determined to make positive impacts.

During his collegiate education, RK decided to serve his country, and joined the U.S. Army active duty from 1969-1971 during the Vietnam Era, where he earned the rank of First Lieutenant, then served as Captain in the Colorado Army National Guard 1974-76, and in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1976-1998, retiring as Lieutenant Colonel with the 1st Maneuver Training Command.  While in the Army Reserve, he facilitated numerous exercises throughout the U.S. evaluating troops for readiness capability.  His time in the Reserve was generally not one but two weekends per month, plus tireless hours spent preparing for each exercise that involved documenting and communicating the exercises to be conducted.  He made lifelong genuine friends who became brothers.  Thanks to RK’s tenacious communications, his comrades continue to meet monthly, share stories, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company.

In addition to his military career, RK’s full-time career with the U.S. Federal Government began in 1975, working for the U.S. Treasury Disbursing Office in Colorado.  He moved on to the U.S. General Accounting Office from 1980-1988, then to the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service in 1988 until his retirement in 2015.  During his entire federal career, he earned numerous awards and accolades, and was a member and officer of the Association of Government Accountants.

The military (and John Denver’s song, Rocky Mountain High) brought RK to Colorado in 1974, which he called his home, and swore he would never leave.  One of RK’s favorite pastimes was his love for motorcycles, vehicles, and RVs.  In the beginning, his vehicles had to be the color red, perhaps to represent the Big Red One (1st Infantry Division nickname).  His first sports car was a 1972 red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.  His favorite was his chartreuse full body paint gentleman’s Jeep Wrangler Sahara that he kept immaculate.  His prize was a 2021 Sebring Orange Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray.  He was the proud owner of a Honda Gold Wing GL1800 motorcycle (of course, Caliente Red), plus a trailer to pull behind with a stunning custom paint job displaying a flying eagle and U.S. flag.  He joined the Gold Wing Road Riders Association, actively participated in local chapters, lived for their group rides, and once again made lifelong friends. 

RK loved the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the endless outdoor activities, especially hiking.  He thoroughly enjoyed taking his family on summer trips in one of the many campers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes they had over the years, plus downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.  One could easily pick out RK in a crowd – he was the character always wearing bright colors (especially chartreuse) to match his vehicles, plus sporting a very distinct Fu Manchu moustache that no one would forget.  He was a voracious reader bringing several books home from the local library weekly, and an obsessive movie buff with a collection of over 1,000 alphabetized DVDs.

RK met the love of his life, Janet, at the Treasury Disbursing Office where they both worked.  They were married in January 1982, in between semesters while both were attending college part-time.  He would say the proudest accomplishment and light of his life was his daughter, Hanna, from the moment she was born.  When she was 36 hours old in 1990, he visited the infamous Dennison Elementary School, in Lakewood, Colorado, and asked the principal if he could get Hanna on the waiting list for enrollment.  The principal said he doubted she could enter that Fall.  RK advised him of her date of birth, and the principal quickly responded saying he was certain she would be in the kindergarten class of 1995.  Hanna learned to love school because of RK, and he became her hero.  If anyone asked RK about Hanna, he would talk their ears off!

And so, his volunteer work began at Hanna’s schools.  He actively participated in numerous parent activities throughout her education, most importantly at D’Evelyn Jr/Sr High School, where he dedicated 20 years of service and made countless contributions.  RK was a driving spirit in everything with which he chose to participate.  He was fully involved for many years in his important role as Treasurer of the D’Evelyn Education Foundation.  Prior to that he served on the D’Evelyn Steering Committee.  He coordinated the Awards/Scholarship program making the process more efficient for both staff and students.  He became actively involved in the Jamin Fund that funds an award and scholarship at D’Evelyn.  Since the formation of the Jamin Fund Foundation, RK served officially as Treasurer, but he was also always unofficially its strongest advocate and biggest fan.

After a courageous and grueling 4-year battle with Multiple Myeloma blood cancer, RK passed away on January 26, 2024, at the age of 78.  He is survived by his wife Janet, daughter Hanna, brother Gordon Spencer (Bertica), sister Chryse Thomas (Raymond), sister Susan Mitchell, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews, plus numerous lifelong friends who became family.  As we say goodbye to RK, let us remember the warmth of his smile, the strength of his character, and the enduring love that will continue to guide and inspire those who were privileged to know him.

RK will be interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.  His service with full military honors will begin sharply at 11:30 am at staging area C on Friday, May 3, 2024.  A celebration of life will be held for him that same day at 1:00 pm at the Ken Caryl Ranch House in Littleton, Colorado, where he and Janet were married 42 years ago.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Jamin Fund at www.jaminfund.org.  RK would have preferred donations to the Jamin Fund because he so strongly believed in its purpose.

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