James S. Spigelmire, owned restaurant and tavern

November 28, 1992

James S. Spigelmire, a retired tavern and restaurant owne who served in a Navy unit in China and Manchuria during World War II, died Wednesday of cancer at Stella Maris Hospice.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Spigelmire, who was 81 and lived on Joppa Road in Perry Hall, was to be offered at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, 8420 Belair Road in Fullerton.

Mr. Spigelmire, who lived in Parkville for many years, retired in 1972 as the owner of a Highlandtown restaurant and tavern that bore his name.

Fond of saltwater fishing, he also maintained a winter home in Venice, Fla.

A native of Valley Park, Mo., he moved with his family to Sparrows Point as a child when his father, a master mechanic for the Bethlehem Steel Corp., was transferred there.

He was educated in the public schools in Sparrows Point but went to work as a laborer for the steel company for two years before finishing high school. In 1929, he entered Mount St. Joseph High School on a scholarship, graduating in 1933.

He was named to the 1932 Maryland All-Star Soccer Team.

After high school, he attended the University of Baltimore law school on a football scholarship, again leaving before graduation to go to work for Bethlehem Steel.

He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and was assigned to a unit that included Army and Marine Corps personnel and was jointly commanded by an admiral in the U.S. Navy and a general in China's intelligence service.

The unit worked behind Japanese lines, compiling weather reports, watching coastal shipping and rescuing airmen shot down by the Japanese.

The unit was the basis of a movie, "Destination Gobi," and Mr. Spigelmire was mentioned in three books on the unit, "The Rice Paddy Navy," "The Army Navy Game," and "A Different Kind of War."

After the war, he moved from Dundalk to Parkville. He operated the tavern in Highlandtown for more than 20 years.

He was a member of the Parkville Post of the American Legion and was a Baltimore Colts fan, who attended the 1958 championship game in which they beat the Giants in New York.

Mr. Spigelmire is survived by his wife, the former Marcella Dean; two daughters, Lynne Spigelmire Viti of Westwood, Mass., and Anne Spigelmire Werps of Perry Hall; a brother, Charles E. Spigelmire of Baltimore; two sisters, Sara Jane Chamberlin and Sister Mary Vernarda Spigelmire, S.S.N.D., both of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

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