WATERVILLE and CHINA LAKE -- John Henry Spangler, of Waterville and China Lake, passed away peacefully on March 13, 2013, at Mount Saint Joseph, lovingly cared for both physically and spiritually by the truly wonderful staff since suffering a stroke more than a year ago.
John was born Feb. 14, 1923, in Drexel Hill, Pa., to John Walter and Grace Copley Spangler.
He leaves a devoted wife, Natalie "Nancy" Spangler, with whom he shared 70 wonderful years. Also, their son, John, and his wife, Mary Ellen, in Utah; daughter Mary and her husband, Tim Blagg, formerly of Waterville, now living in Massachusetts; and daughter Nancy with her husband, William Tiernan, also formerly of Waterville, but now in Colorado. These families blessed John and Natalie with six adult grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
John served in the U.S. Navy as a blimp pilot during World War II, flying from bases on the Atlantic coast of North and South America to protect convoys from submarines. Later as a Naval Reservist, he flew until the end of the lighter than air program in 1970, retiring as a commander. His love of flying continued and included many hours flying patients or families (and once even an injured bald eagle!) for treatment elsewhere for Air Lifeline. His last flight was a week before his stroke in November 2011. He also enjoyed 28 years service as a volunteer for MaineGeneral Hospital (Thayer).
John and Natalie raised their family in the Philadelphia suburbs, then moved to Houston, Texas, before finally settling in Waterville nearly 30 years ago. They loved summers on China Lake, swimming, sailing and canoeing.
John was noted for his patience, frugality, sense of humor and sense of navigation, making life interesting and fun for those around him, and now lonely for all who loved him. His remains will be buried at sea, and a memorial service will be held at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions are recommended.