Thomas Grady Spires ’50

Thomas Grady Spires, known to all simply as “Grady,” passed into glory peacefully at the age of 91 years on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at The Residence at Riverbend in Ipswich.

In his final days, he was surrounded by family, who rejoice that Grady has gone home to be with the Savior that he loved so dearly and served faithfully his entire life. 

Grady was born in Miami, Florida, on June 6, 1928 to Alfred Clinton Spires and Mildred Evans Spires, the third of five siblings, the late Evans Spires, the late Clinton Spires, Eunice (Spires) Hoffman, and Mary (Spires) Rynd.

He met his wife, Marian Elizabeth White, of Schenectady, NY, at Penial Bible Conference, and were married on May 23, 1953. Later, after Marian’s death, Grady remarried to Catharina Swart of Beverly, on June 2, 2005. 

Grady graduated from Miami High School in 1946, then from Davidson College with an A.B. in 1950, then went on to study under eminent Reformed philosopher Cornelius van Til, earning a bachelor’s degree in Divinity from Westminster Seminary in 1953.

After Westminster, he moved to Boston, completing a Masters in Sacred Theology at Harvard Divinity School, and continued on in pursuit of a PhD, with graduate work at Free University of Amsterdam.

While in his doctorate program, he felt called to teaching in Christian higher education and started as a Professor of Philosophy at Gordon College in 1956. 

Grady continued to teach at Gordon for the next 42 years, becoming a beloved fixture at the school until his retirement in 1998. His roles at Gordon included not only professor but also department chair, academic advisor, faculty senate chair, professor for European Seminar, visiting professor at Daystar University in Kenya and much more; twice he was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1969, then again in 1998).

During his tenure at Gordon, he wrote a significant portion of his doctoral thesis – inspired by Dutch Reformed philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd – but tragically lost the thesis in an office fire at the college.

On May 26, 2005, Grady was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Westminster Seminary, honoring his incredible contributions to his field and his tenacious efforts to obtain his doctorate. 

Grady was known for his incredible warmth, his genuine joy, his vivacious smile and greeting, his infectious interest in all things philosophical and theological, his intellectual curiosity, and his well-grounded character and faith.

He was a true Renaissance man, often performing his famous “bottle-cap tap dance” at faculty talent shows, acting in many theatrical productions – both at Gordon and beyond – and singing and playing jazzy piano long into his older years, including for the residents of his retirement community.

He stayed active until well into his older years and he spoke Dutch, German, and also knew Greek and Hebrew as a result of his theological studies. 

Outside of life at Gordon, Grady was a founding elder of First Presbyterian Church North Shore, in Ipswich, where he served faithfully as an elder for many years and was an integral part of church life for over six decades.

He taught at Peniel Bible Conference – the place he met his wife Marian, a camp named after the place where Jacob encountered God in the Old Testament – in upstate New York for many summers, also becoming an indispensable part of that community.

He also gave his time to the C.S. Lewis Foundation, where he was a founding trustee, working to preserve Lewis’ legacy and his estate in England. 

Finally, Grady was a loving husband, father, and grandfather as well. He is preceded by his first wife, Marion (White) Spires, and survived by his second wife, Catharina (Swart) Spires.

He is also survived by his four children and their spouses: Karen (Spires) and John Capps of Flagstaff, AZ, Jo-Alice (Spires) and Ken Stockwell, of Danvers, Cindy (Spires) and Frank Purdy, of Hamilton, and Thomas Spires of Amesbury; 11 grandchildren, Krista, Nicole, Allison, Kayla, John Michael, Janel, Sarah, Josiah, Jennifer, Johanna, Jonathan and six great-grandchildren, Talia, Emmett, Lucas, Wyatt, Selah, and Rowan. 

A memorial service for Grady will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 2 pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 179 County Road, Ipswich. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.

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