Cover photo for Wanda Spence's Obituary
1924 Wanda 2020

Wanda Spence

December 29, 1924 — July 8, 2020

Wanda May Smith Spence, 95, died on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Albuquerque. Her family wishes to extend thanks to the wonderful assisted-living staff at Palmilla Senior Living; the nurses, caregivers, and social workers with Hospice of New Mexico; and Wanda's special New Mexico friends Brenda and Dez Sisneros.

Her parents were Clyde Douglas Smith, Sr. and Leona Hart Smith. Wanda was born in Loraine, TX on December 29, 1924.

Wanda attended public schools in several West Texas towns where her dad worked for the Caterpillar Equipment Company. She graduated from Loraine High School in 1942 and attended McMurry College (now McMurry University). At McMurry she majored in English, was a member of the McMurry Chanters choir, the T.I.P. social club, and the Wah Wahtaysee service club. She graduated in 1946.

After graduation, she worked for the Sun Oil Company in Midland and Fort Worth. On December 28, 1948, she married Dr. Vernon Gladden Spence from Tangier Island, Virginia, whom she had met a McMurry. Theirs was the last wedding held in the old First Methodist Church in Loraine before the current building was constructed.

In the early 1950s Wanda began a long teaching career in the Lubbock area, Odessa, Denver, Albilene, and Fairfax County, VA, retiring in 1985. She and her husband built their retirement home in the scenic Chesapeake Bay coastal town of Onancock on Virginia's Eastern Shore peninsula. Following the death of Dr. Spence in 1989, Wanda returned to Abilene, where she lived for more than a decade. Along with her son and daughter-in-law, she later lived in Dallas and the Albuquerque area.

A devout lifelong Methodist, Wanda was a member of First United Methodist Church of Loraine, First UMC of Lubbock, St Paul UMC of Abilene, and Fairfax UMC and Market Street UMC (Onancock) in Virginia. She was also a member of various clubs and organizations in the places she lived. She was an avid reader, history buff, and enjoyed traveling throughout the US and Canada. She also traveled to some more distant destinations stretching from Hawaii to Austria.

Wanda was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; and her brother, Dr. Clyde Douglas Smith, Jr. and his wife, Faye Narrell Smith. Survivors include her three children, John R. (Randy) Spence and Martha Sibley Spence of Rio Rancho, NM, Deborah Anne Spence Schiro and Anthony T. Schiro of Clinton, WA, and Kevin D. Spence and Lisa Winston Spence of Arlington, VA. Wanda is also survived by two granddaughters, Emma Winston Spence Withiam and Taylor S. Withiam, and Jennifer Schiro. Wanda truly loved her many cousins in her family and in her husband's family. Special mention should be made of Wanda's two longtime Virginia friends, Ruth Crockett and Ruby Dise.

A graveside service will be conducted Friday, July 24, 2020, at 11:00AM at Belle Haven Cemetery.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore, Virginia.

Graveside Service

Belle Haven Cemetery
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  • Lee Street
    Belle Haven, Virginia 23306
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