John Joseph Spence Jr., 75, of Haddonfield, a Municipal Court judge in the borough for more than three decades, died Sunday, Jan. 14, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital of a malignant stroke.
Born in Stratford, Judge Spence graduated from Gloucester Catholic High School, which he attended on a baseball scholarship. He also pursued the sport at La Salle University, from which he graduated in 1965. He went on to Rutgers Law School in Camden and graduated in 1968.
Judge Spence was known for his fairness, diligent work, and strong sense of humor. Those close to him described him as a true Irishman with a knack for storytelling and a love of family, black cherries and pistachios, and the Phillies and Eagles.
Asked about her father's work, daughter Pauline used the word fair.
"That's the best way I can say it," she said. "Just absolutely, truly fair. Everybody that came through … said he was all around an honorable man, not just having the title, but he was ethical, fair, had a strong sense of loyalty, and really cared about the town of Haddonfield and the people in it."
He dedicated much of his free time to sports, coaching the Haddonfield Little League and basketball at Christ the King School. He was also a longtime member of the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor and Tavistock Country Club.
His children could expect newspaper clippings in the mail every week, without fail, of stories their father thought would appeal to them – anything sports-related, connected to Haddonfield, or a university they attended, his family said.
This hobby followed his daughter into marriage, when he gave her husband an album of "marriage advice" made up of a year's worth of clippings from the comic strip Hagar the Horrible.
In addition to working as a Municipal Court judge, Judge Spence ran his own private law practice, where he shared his passion by mentoring young attorneys.
In 2010, Judge Spence was nominated by Gov. Jon Corzine as an administrative law judge for the State of New Jersey. He held the position for approximately two years before retiring at age 70.
In addition to his wife, Jane, and daughter, he is survived by two sons, Brad and John J. III; eight grandchildren; and a brother and sister. His former wife, Dona, predeceased him.