RANDY WRIGHT SPENCER Randy Wright Spencer passed away suddenly in the early morning hours of November 19, 2008 at home. Born in Long Beach, CA on July 10, 1948, he spent his very early childhood in North Redondo Beach, then moved to Hermosa Beach and was raised on Myrtle Avenue by his mother, Coralie Ebey and his step-father, Lou Ebey. He attended North Elementary and Pier Avenue Middle School, then graduated from Mira Costa High School in 1966. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed at Hamilton Air Force Base and was then accepted as part of the Combat Air Crew on Reconnaissance Flights during the Vietnam War, flying on a Constellation aircraft stationed in Korat, Thailand. He served there for approximately 13 months and achieved 104 missions. He was then transferred to Vandenberg Air Force base where he completed his duty and received an Honorable Discharge. This past August, he attended an aircrew reunion and special plaque dedication ceremony for the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Ohio. He was able to hook up with two of his best flight buddies from that old era, tour the planes they had flown and he had a wonderful time. Using his V.A. Benefits, Randy started his college education. He received his A.A. from El Camino College and then transferred to Cal State Dominguez Hills where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, his California State Teaching Credential and finally qualified as Lifetime, focusing on Special Education with students who had learning disabilities and behavior problems, and then earned his Resource Credential. He began his teaching career at Escalon, a private school in Altadena, CA and after a year was contacted by Peggy Tremaine at South High School and was offered a position as a Special Education teacher. He remained there for approximately thirteen years and then was transferred to West High School where he taught until his sudden death. After decades of teaching he decided to go back to school himself and earned his Masters in Teaching/Education from the University of the Grand Canyon. He achieved this all the while he was working and proudly graduated having sustained a 4.0 grade average. With his thirty years of experience teaching Special Ed, Randy became a mentor and was always available to offer advice to the younger teachers. From time-to-time he was still in touch with his former students who looked up to him and thanked him for helping them get through the difficult years of high school. Randy wanted the best for his students so that they would be prepared to go out into the world and survive. Randy's philosophy was to "lay down the rules" with his new students and as they developed, he would give them some breathing room. It was a very successful strategy as many students returned to thank him for his support and the discipline that helped them grow up to be responsible adults. As a child he loved the beach and spent his childhood swimming, bellyboarding, surfing and helping his family, the Bergstroms, run The Riviera, the old hamburger stand on 22nd Street in Hermosa Beach. He fondly remembered the old time surfers, many of whom became legends. He even ventured to build his own board in his garage and was so proud of his achievement. He was also part of the junior lifeguard program in Hermosa. He enjoyed swimming and water polo in high school and was like a fish in the water. He also liked to build scale-model airplane designs, many of which used to be on display at Paul Freiler's Historical Model Shop in Torrance and were photographed for the covers of Revel model boxes. In time, Randy also took up Radio-control Glider flying and was a member of SULA for many years. He ultimately earned a place on the United States F3B Soaring Team, first as Team Captain in 1991 in the Netherlands and thereafter as a competitor in 1993 in Israel, 1995 in Romania and 1997 in Turkey. Randy took up flying lessons and earned his pilot's license at Torrance Airport under the direction of Mickey, a life-long pilot, instructor and friend. Over the years he was able to advance his flying skills and was "checked out" in a T-6, Cessna, Citabria, Cherokee 6 and ultimately the Stearman Bi-Plane, which he was fortunate enough to become its caregiver while the owner, Fred Brunig, was living in Oregon. Randy made many friends at the Torrance Airport which became his second home. He became part of the brotherhood, always willing to help others. Randy always said that flying was like going to church. It was a very spiritual experience and one that helped sustain him for such a very long time. Many weekends, you could hear and see him flying over his home and making a big smoke ring in the sky. It was quite a sight. He also participated in the annual Memorial Day fly-by at Green Hills Memorial Park and the Fourth of July Malaga Cove Gathering. His neighborhood would have a traditional Fourth of July Block party and it was always a sure thing that he would do a fly-by right over the middle of the block with smoke streaming in celebration. Randy was a big man in size and his heart was even bigger. He was so generous with his time and was always willing to help others in any kind of favor and he so enjoyed giving rides to others. He made it such a very special event. The last weekend of his life, he gave a bi-plane ride to a man as a birthday present from his wife. Randy always believed in doing the right thing, no matter how difficult it might be. There are so many people to thank for their friendships at Torrance Airport, but in particular George Sedillo, Harry Haggard, Dave Nelson, Jean Breedlove, Frank Mauro, Dr. Dick Smith, Buzz, Dr. Tony Giorgio, Uncle Don, Martin and Joan Smith and Dave and Monica Cleveland, Nancy Clinton and Mickey. In addition, a very special thank you to Gordon Matthews, as mentor and father-figure who encouraged Randy to pursue his higher flying skills. Randy is survived by his loving wife of 31 ½ years, Maxine (Max) Riganti Spencer of Redondo Beach, his loving and loyal dogs, Lucy and Roscoe Brown, his brother Brant Bergstrom Spencer and sister-in-law Diane Talley Spencer of Washington, his sister Amanda Ebey and his sister-in-law Marsha Lieberman of San Francisco, brother-in-law Fred Riganti and his wife June of Torrance, sister-in-law Julie Riganti Bigelow of Redondo Beach, nieces Brandi Reeves and Amber Spencer and grandniece Averi Reeves and grandnephew Aiden Reeves of Washington, his uncle and aunt Robert and Kathy Bergstrom of Hermosa Beach, and numerous cousins. He is also survived by his godmother Joan McAllister of New York and her extended family. He is predeceased by his father, Ralph W. Spencer, his mother, Coralie C. Ebey, his step-father, Louis Ebey and his grandmother, Louise Bergstrom. Donations can be made in Randy's memory to the SPCALA or the Randy Spencer Scholarship Fund at West High, Torrance. A gathering of family and friends will be held Monday, November 24, from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Rice Mortuary, 5310 Torrance Blvd. in Torrance with Memorial Services beginning at 7:00 PM in the Mortuary Chapel. A reception in Rice's Lighthouse Reception Room will follow.

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  1. Max, I will miss Randy dearly. I know when he left this world he was greeted with open arms by his mom and family that have been waiting for him. He can now soar freely as he did when he was flying. All his fly-bys will always be over the house to keep and eye on you and the pups. Many blessings Dawn

  2. Max, We are so blessed to have been able to meet Randy and get to know what a wonderful, warm loving person he was. Ron will forever have the memory of flying with him and me the thoughfulness of the both of you to give the best gift that anyone can give, themselves. I know that you will have some very difficult times ahead of you, but I hope that you can find some comfort in knowing that no matter what, we will be here for you!! You are a special person and have become close to my heart, and it hurts to know how much this is hurting you…. My thoughts and prayers are always with you. Lots of Love, Always…. Kathy and Ron Shepherd

  3. Max, I was saddened to hear the news of Randy. Even though I never met him, I feel as though I knew him from all the stories you told me about him. He sounded like a wonderful person and wish I had gotten to meet him. My heart goes out to you at this very sad time, and my thoughts and prayers are with you. May your sweet memories of Randy sustain you at this difficult time. Pat

  4. Max, Sad news travels many miles. So very sorry to hear of Randy passing. I am glad I was one of the Lucky one’s that had a chance to know him. My condolences. Larry Bigelow

  5. Max, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We are both so saddened by your loss and the passing of such a good friend and mentor. I will miss him for ever. Love Steve + Willie

  6. Max, We are deeply saddened by your loss. Our thoughts are with you. We have learned of Randy’s teaching achievements and how he has touched the lives of many. He truly left a legacy. We wish we had known him better.

  7. I knew Randy and competed with him in many, many sailplane contests during the 90’s. He was always cheerful, friendly and helpful. I am very sorry for the loss of a great friend and fellow modeler.

  8. From all of us at Central Valley R/C Soaring in Visalia, we wish to express our sincere sorrow at Randy’s passing. He was a friend to all of us and will be missed. Soar with the eagles Randy, we love you and will miss you.

  9. We are deeply sorry for your loss and wish you peace. Randy made a difference in the lives of many. Ther’s a special place in heaven for him. Love, Jolee & Judy

  10. Bonjour It is very sad to know that Randy is gone. I remember him and Maxine in Paris for a new wedding in the 90’s we had wonderful days together. I will keep in my mind Randy as a friend with who I had a lot of great days during competition where we share a lot of laugh. I want to send “mon amiti” to Maxine from south west of France. Philippe

  11. Max, I am very sorry to hear of Randy’s passing. Randy was a good friend and a great guy to be around. I have been sitting here thinking about all the wonderful times We shared competing around the world. We enjoyed many adventures together during our travels, Soaring abroad.May Randy rest in peace, and you travel your tomorrows with joy, until you are reunited. I remember how much Randy loved you, and the 2nd wedding in Paris. God brought Randy home way to soon. Our thoughts are with you at this time as Randy makes his last flight.

  12. Max, I feel so bad about your loss of Randy. I’ll so miss seeing him out there polishing the Stearman or working on the model airplanes. He was such a master! If there is anything I can ever do, please let me and I’m going to bug you so you remember to call!

  13. Dear Spencer Family. Our deepest sympathy for your loss of such a wonderful man as Randy. Our son Eric was a student of his for his 4 years at West and graduated in 2007. Because of Randy, Eric graduated school with a 4.0 and a love of education. Randy always encouraged him to strive for success. Eric was a handful at school. His processing delays made school difficult. Randy was always patient with Eric. He would come home from school everyday with news of what he did in Mr. Spencer’s class and that school was fun. Eric is now attending SCROC and studying to be a Veterinarian Asst. He is currently working at “Too Many Bunnies” rabbit rescue in Redondo Beach. Our next male bunny that is rescued will be named “Spencer” in honor of Randy. We were so fortunate to have had Randy in our lives, and we will miss him terribly.

  14. From: Carolyn Van Meter (retired from South High Special Education 1997)– The department looked forward to Halloween each year as we would come dressed in costumes. Randy stole the “show” one year with his jolly green giant outfit. It was the most. Randy was inspiring to work with and it was a pleasure to know him.

  15. Max, Prayers and thoughts are with you at this time. Wish we could have attended the service – heard it was absolutely beautiful and touching. Randy was an amazing person who left a marked impression on all of us who had the pleasure to know him. He will be truly missed by all. God Bless, Patti

  16. Dearest Amanda, We are so very sorry to hear of Randy’s untimely death. We also feel lucky to have met him at your wedding. How nice that he & Max were able to celebrate your wedding with you & Marsha. Much love from Robin, Lou, Anna & Esther

  17. Erin & I just learned of Randys’ passing yesterday June 29, 2009. We are shocked to learn of his fate, but know that he is in a higher place and in good hands of the lord. Our heartfelt sorrow to you “Max”. We have never met, but knew of you thru Randy. Randy was a fellow “Batcat” having flown together numerous times in Viet Nam.

  18. To my friend and fellow Batcat, I give you this poem by John Gillespie Magee High Flight (an Airman’s Ecstasy) Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew. And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. You will be missed! – lg

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