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Julius's Story

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Julius Arthur Spence, of Signal Mountain, passed away on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at the age 102 years at Alexian Brothers on Signal Mountain, Tenn. Jules was born to Arthur Spence, a second-generation Irish - American and Marie Lefeve, of French-Canadian descent, in Dannemora, N.Y.
He graduated from Dannemora High School in 1933 and then Plattsburg State Normal School in 1936. The lack of teaching positions available due to the Great Depression, caused him to join the New York State troopers. After acceptance, he was assigned to Malone Barracks with the Black Horse division, where he patrolled the beautiful Adirondack Mountains. He was in the first group of troopers not to patrol routinely on horseback (open car in winter was just as bad!). Drafted into the Army in 1941, he was variously assigned to Mitchell Field, Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Jackson, S.C. and Camp Atterbury, Ind. While he taught artillery at Fort Benning, he met Lt. Eleanor Brinkmeyer. They were separated for three years while she served as chief scrub nurse at the 121st General Hospital in Africa, Italy and France. He became a German prison-of-war in December 1944 after the 106th division was captured in the Ardennes forest near St. Vith at the Battle of the Bulge. Originally interned at Stalag XIIIB, he lost much of his hearing to the American bombing of German cities during a terrifying forced march eastward to avoid the advancing Allied Army. In the confusion of the allied triumph, he finally found and married Eleanor in France in June 1945.
He was a government employee for his entire career. He variously worked for the Voice of America, United States Information Agency, and the Bureau of Public roads (now Department of Transportation). Julius was a longtime resident of Arlington, Virginia and after Eleanor died in 1988, he moved to Signal Mountain, Tenn. to be near his only child, Jane and lived independently until he was almost 98 years old. He was active in the Meals on Wheel, St. Augustine Church (was a founding member of the Cursillo Group) and the Lions Club. His frequent and generous financial help to any unfortunate soul down on his/her luck was not widely known except to the grateful recipients and his family.
Julius was an excellent storyteller with an exceptional memory for vivid detail, he held many "captive" with stories from his childhood and beyond. His unfailing good humor and gracious affability endeared him to all who met him.
The family gratefully acknowledges the care he received in his last years at Alexian Brothers Assisted Living and the nurturing final care of Hospice of Chattanooga.
He well be sorely missed by his only child, Dr. Jane Spence Catterton and son-in-law Dr. Zack Catterton, who treated him as if he were his own father. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Elizabeth Catterton (Adam) McBrayer, and Dr. William Z. (Amanda) Catterton, IV; great grandchildren, Marissa and Carter McBrayer, and Zoe Catterton.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Eleanor; and all of his three siblings, George, Hubert and Carolyn; and all of his nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass of Celebration will be said at 10 am on Thursday, May 18, at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1716 Anderson Pike, Signal Mtn., TN 37377 with Father Joseph Kuzhupil presiding.
The family will receive friends after the service on Thursday at the church.
Burial will be held later at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, with full military honors.
Arrangements are by the North Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 5401 Highway 153, Hixson, TN.
Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanooganorthchapel.com.
Published on May 14, 2017
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