Antique Vintage 10

Clark Christian Spence

May 25, 1923 ~ October 24, 2020 (age 97) 97 Years Old


Clark C. Spence   5/25/1923—10/24/2020


            Clark Christian Spence, 97, passed away October 24, 2020.

He was born in Great Falls, Montana, to Christian Edward and Lela (Killion)

Spence, but grew up on a fruit orchard in Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho.  He is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Lee, whom he married in 1953, his son Thomas Spence (Marilyn Shultz) and his daughter Ann Spence as well as his sister Wilma Long.  He is predeceased by his sister, Dorothy Browning.

            After serving as a tail gunner on a B-26 bomber in WWII, Clark studied at the University of Colorado receiving a B.A. (1948) and then an M.A. (1951) His PhD is from the University of Minnesota where he met his wife.  He taught history at Carleton College, Pennsylvania State University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois. 

            Clark’s fellowships included a Fulbright, Ford, Guggenheim, and in 1977, he was an Associate Member in the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Studies.  He had several summer-grants-in-aid from organizations, including the Huntington Library, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Association for State and Local History.  His first book, British Investments and the American Mining Frontier, 1860-1901, received the A.J. Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association in 1971.

            Most of his fourteen books deal with mining in the American West, but he has also written on the coming of steam cultivation to Great Britain, the efforts of the Salvation Army to establish farm colonies in the West and the various attempts to make rain (pluviculture) before World War II.  He was the author of the bicentennial history of Montana. He was president of the Western History Association (1969-1970) and the Mining History Association (1990-1991).  The latter association created the Clark C. Spence Award in 2002 to be given for an outstanding book in Mining History.

            Clark was a quiet gentle man with a dry wit and the patience of a saint.  He enjoyed working crossword puzzles and reading mysteries. He gave his children great advice so subtly they didn’t realize it was his advice and not their own ideas.  Clark loved his wife dearly.  They could often be found conversing in the evening, he with a glass of red wine or a shot of Blanton’s. 

            Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory are in charge of the arrangements. A private service will be held at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church, Champaign, with the Reverend Beth Maynard officiating and ashes will be interned in the Columbarium at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church. Memorial gifts may be made to the Mining History Association.  (Send to MHA Treasurer James E. Fell at 687 W. Linden St., Louisville, CO  80027-1012) Or, memorials may be made to Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church (parish office, 208 W. University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820)

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