Herbert Rufus Spaugh, Jr., a renaissance man in every sense, passed away July 14, 2023, after filling every moment of his 93 years by honoring God, serving his country and city, building organizations that focused on helping others, flying, sailing, collecting cars and clocks, playing his tuba, and charming every person who met him.
Born in Charlotte on June 6, 1930, to Walter Herbert Spaugh (a U.S. Bishop of the Moravian Church and founder of the Little Church on the Lane in Charlotte) and Ida Brown Efird, Herb, along with his older brother Earle Frederick and younger sister Carolyn, were raised to thank God by serving others.
He earned his pilot’s license at the age of 16 and after graduating from Central High and briefly attending Davidson College, he transferred to UNC Chapel Hill to become an ROTC cadet and earn his MBA in 1952.
During his four-year European tour as a decorated Air Force pilot, he accepted an offer from the U.S. State Department to stay in Europe and fly high-altitude reconnaissance planes and use his German language skills (which he had learned as a child reciting Moravian daily devotions) to continue to serve his country. His military service continued when he returned to America, where he served as an active pilot in the North Carolina Air National Guard for 24 more years – an amazing feat – and was discharged as a lieutenant colonel. It wasn’t at all suspicious that his plane often seemed to break down when his orders required him to fly to a nice, exotic location.
Herb’s civilian business career (which began while he was a student at Eastover Elementary School, raising chickens and selling eggs to his neighbors) took off quickly, as he became the top-selling rookie agent at Connecticut Mutual (now called MassMutual). He was a member of the financial advisor industry’s annual Million Dollar Round Table so many times that he was deemed a lifetime member. He began helping physicians with insurance and risk management, eventually creating a partnership – Spaugh Dameron Tenny- with John Dameron, and Shane Tenny – businessmen with strong Christian values – to offer comprehensive financial planning to medical and dental professionals. This unique niche company now boasts clients nationwide.
He also provided leadership for his hometown, serving three terms on the Charlotte City Council, from 1979-85.
In 1972 he began dating the love of his life, Susan. They married on June 6, 1981 at his home on Carmel Road (yes, for a man who eventually amassed a collection of more than 120 clocks, he took his time proposing). The date is significant because not only did the bride and groom share more than half a century together – they also had the same birthday!
Herb kept a plane (he piloted until he was in his 70s) so that they could get to wherever their boat was on the coast. They spent their first years together racing sailboats at Wrightsville Beach, then switched to cruising on the East Coast until 1999. They moved part time to Lake Norman in 1999 so that they could still be near the water.
Herb’s hobbies included not just the sky and the water, but the road as well (although he reluctantly sold his Model T Ford in 2021, he kept the 1952, 1961 and 1965 Mercedes-Benz convertibles). Additionally, his collection of rare clocks (one of his favorites was a Dresden porcelain clock covered with delicate flowers that had survived WWII) became so large that they eventually hired Cooper, a neighborhood teenager, to come in and wind them once a week.
As a Moravian, Herb said that a horn was stuck in your mouth as soon as you were born. He got back into playing the tuba when he decided that sitting down and playing during the four Christmas Eve Love Feast services at The Little Church on the Lane was preferable to carrying heavy trays with coffee mugs for the worshippers in attendance. He was one of the charter members of New Beginnings Moravian Church that started in Huntersville in 2000 and decided right away that they needed a band. He was the founder and major recruiter for the North Mecklenburg Moravian Brass Choir. He was pleased to have the Choir provide a prelude at Charlotte’s annual Good Fellows Club luncheon to help generate funds for local working families. He also served several years on the Charlotte Symphony’s governing board.
And like his father, his commitment to God was the thread that connected everything in his life. Additionally, he was passionate in his care for Moravian clergy and those who felt the call to full time ministry. He provided the resources for the 2011 debut of the Bishop W. Herbert Spaugh Ministerial and Children’s Educational Fund in memory of his father, an endowment for clergy seminary education, continuing education, and scholarships for children of pastors.
Herb’s zest for life and sincere desire to help people had a profound effect on so many lives. His smile would light up a room, he was funny, and charming – a true Southern gentleman – and will be missed by so very many people from so many walks of life.
In addition to Susan, he is survived by his two daughters, Sharon Rose Spaugh and Renee Leigh Spaugh, both of Charlotte; John Stuart Dameron, his longtime business partner who was like a son to him; and Cooper Tate Fogle, his “adopted” grandson.
Special thanks go to Dr. Mike and Chrystal, and caregivers Trina, Geneva, Toni, Beverly, and Norma.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 30, at 3:00 pm in the sanctuary at Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Rd, Charlotte, where Herb was an associate member. Band prelude will begin at 2:30 pm. Following the service, which will be live streamed at https://myersparkumc.org/worship-with-us/funerals/ the family will receive friends in Jubilee Hall.
Donations in Herb’s honor can be made to two organizations that were so dear to him: the Bishop Herbert Spaugh Fund c/o Moravian Ministries Foundation in America, 119 Brookstown Ave. Suite 305, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27101; or the Music Ministry of Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Rd, Charlotte, NC 28207.