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Dr. H. Newton Spencer, 92, retired orthopedic surgeon

Dr. Spencer practiced both orthopedic surgery and occupational medicine, holding medical licenses for both specialties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina.

H. Newton Spencer
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H. Newton Spencer, 92, of Ardmore, a retired orthopedic surgeon, died Friday, Nov. 3, of heart failure at his home.

"He lived a full life, was ready to go, and went quickly and peacefully," said his daughter, Patricia Turner.

Dr. Spencer was born in Red Bank, N.J., and graduated from Scotch Plains High School. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1945 and a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950.

After completing an internship at Presbyterian Hospital in 1951, he returned to North Carolina as medical director at Cannon Mills in Kannapolis. While employed by the sheets and towels manufacturer, he became interested in the field of occupational medicine.

In 1953, as the Korean War was ending, Dr. Spencer served as an Air Force flight surgeon, and that experience piqued his interest in orthopedic surgery. After completing his military service, he was accepted as an orthopedic surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1955.

Dr. Spencer ended up practicing orthopedic surgery and occupational medicine. He held medical licenses for both in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

As an orthopedic surgeon, he had admitting privileges at Haverford Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and Springfield Hospital in Delaware County. He also was an instructor at Hahnemann University Hospital. In 1961, he was director of emergency service at Haverford.

Dr. Spencer always went to work wearing his signature bow tie. His bedside manner – "I'm Dr. Spencer" – was crisp but caring. He was well-liked by his patients, many of whom lived in the Havertown area, his daughter said.

After earning a certificate from Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration in health systems management in 1973, he developed a network of clinics, mostly in Philadelphia, that did pre-employment exams and medical assessments of workers for big corporations and unions. One such clinic was at 17th and Market Streets in Center City. Another was at Philadelphia International Airport.

In 2013, he received a call from his last big client, informing him that his services were no longer needed. He laughed about being let go, and happily retired.

Dr. Spencer's love of medicine also informed his charitable work. In the 1960s, he volunteered for several medical mission trips to Haiti, where he saw all kinds of patients with a group of other physicians. "People would travel for miles to see the doctors. He enjoyed it," his daughter said.

He also was the doctor for the Haverford Senior High School football teams in the 1970s.

Dr. Spencer was an active member of Ardmore Presbyterian Church for over 60 years, serving as deacon, trustee, and elder.  He was a member and former president of the Rotary Club of Havertown, a member of the Ardmore Rotary for 50 years, and a member of the Union League of Philadelphia for 57 years, his family said.

When not working, he enjoyed vacations with family in Ocean City, N.J. "He loved riding his bike on the boardwalk in Ocean City," his daughter said.

Dr. Spencer, whose father left the family when he was 6 weeks old, was educated and became successful with the help of others. He never forgot that.

He asked his family to pass along the following advice to those facing impediments: "Hard work, studying, obtaining a good education, and permitting friends to help can enable you to achieve your life goals and enjoy success."

Besides his daughter, Dr. Spencer is survived by his wife of 68 years, Mary Johnston Spencer, also a doctor; children Daniel and Mary Anne Blair; and nine grandchildren. A daughter, Currie Gavin, and a grandson died earlier.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, Dec. 2, at Ardmore Presbyterian Church, 5 W. Montgomery Ave., Ardmore, Pa. 19003. Burial is private.

Memorial donations may be made to the church at the address above.