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Love Abounds For Late Glen Rock Police Chaplain

The Rev. Roger William Spencer
The Rev. Roger William Spencer Photo Credit: LEFT: Tanis family / RIGHT: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

GLEN ROCK, N.J. – Tributes continued mounting on Friday, hours before a funeral Mass for beloved former Glen Rock Police Chaplain Roger William Spencer.

The Rev. Spencer, who was born in Brooklyn on May 4, 1947, died Tuesday at 70 years old.

"To be a success, you have to love your people," Spencer told an SRO gathering in February 2016, during his final sermon at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glen Rock after more than 40 years in the ministry.

"I couldn't find better words to describe Rev. Spencer," borough Police Chief Dean Ackerman said afterward. "He's served this community, he's served the Lord and he's served [police] as chaplain with dignity, honor and compassion."

Spencer, who joined Good Shepherd in 1982, became the chaplain for borough police and their PBA in 1999.

He was considered "a pillar in the community," Director of Music Ministries Peter Calabro said.

No further proof was needed than the intersection of South Highwood and Ackerman avenues -- dubbed Rev. Spencer Square.

"I delivered mail to the Good Shepherd Church [in Glen Rock] for almost 29 years," Thomas Daurizio wrote, "and Pastor Spencer was there the entire time. I would always call him 'The Boss.' He was one of my favorite people in my postal career."

"He's always been there for our family when we needed him," said Amy Tanis, whose two children were baptized by Spencer.

Spencer attended Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and was ordained at his home church, St. John’s Lutheran Church in Merrick, Long Island, in June 1973 after receiving his Master of Divinity degree.

Spencer -- who served his internship at First Lutheran Church in Clifton -- received his Doctorate of Ministry in May 1995 from The Graduate Theological Foundation.

He served 10 years as pastor of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Edison before accepting the call in 1983 to lead the flock at Good Shepherd.

Spencer was a founding member of the Glen Rock Arts Council and served on the borough Emergency Task Force, the Valley Hospital Chaplaincy Advisory Board and the Clinical Pastoral Education Board at the hospital.

He also wrote a book for his grandchildren, "Alexander’s Quest," explaining faith to a young boy through Theo, a church mouse.

"It's been a joy," Spencer, who sustained a major stroke three years ago, told Daily Voice after his final sermon 15 months ago. "It's been a gift, a gift from God. This is a wonderful community."

Spencer leaves a wife, his childhood sweetheart Patricia Heinsohn Spencer, to whom he was married 47 years ago this month.

They had two children, Cortney and Shayne (and his wife, Jessica) and three grandchildren: Alexander, Emily and Isabelle.

A funeral service was set for 7 p.m. Friday at Good Shepherd. Donations in lieu of flowers to Good Shepherd, to St. Stephen’s or to the organization of your choice would be deeply appreciated, loved ones said.

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