Spady’s contributions were innumerable

Published 9:04 pm Monday, February 11, 2013

Chuckatuck native Frank A. Spady Jr. had a long and illustrious career as an architect in Suffolk. Through the years, he left his mark — literally — on many of the area buildings people have come to know and love. Others, such as the Human Services Building at 440 Market Street and John F. Kennedy Middle School, became important to the city in earlier incarnations and have remained focal points of their respective communities throughout their long lives.

But there were other reasons Mr. Spady, who died last week at the age of 94, will be remembered for years to come in Suffolk.

He and his wife, Katherine, for instance, did something that’s increasingly rare in this world: They remained married to each other for 66 years, producing five children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The couple’s obvious love for each other found an extension in Mr. Spady’s great love for his extended family and then in the love for the city that he served through the Suffolk Rotary Club and the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club.

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Mr. Spady’s mark on Suffolk, however, is even more distinctive because of the direct service he did on behalf of the city, where he also had served as a member of the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

But for many, Mr. Spady’s greatest contributions were as a member of the U.S. Armed forces. Two years after he left Suffolk on a bus in 1942, he was captured after parachuting into a German city after his airplane caught fire during an air battle with the Germans in November 1944. He then spent the next five months as a prisoner of war.

“Many of us agreed that God must have had a purpose for sparing us as long as He had, and we prayed that His purpose would hold out to the end of the war,” Spady wrote in his autobiography in 1992.

Nobody can say what God’s purpose was in saving Mr. Spady and the others who were held in his German POW camp. What’s clear, though, is the grace that spared his life during that terrible time in history also gave Mr. Spady the opportunity to help shape the history of his own city. Suffolk is a better place for his having lived and worked here.