Alex J. Spencer, 83, furniture company co-founderAlex J...

March 28, 1996

Alex J. Spencer, 83, furniture company co-founder

Alex J. Spencer, co-founder of a Talbot County furniture company, died of heart failure Monday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 83 and lived in St. Michaels.

He was co-founder, president and board chairman of Higgins and Spencer, a St. Michaels furniture company that he and his partner, Spencer Higgins, established in the early 1940s.

He was on the board of Memorial Hospital in Easton, a director of the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity, and a member of the Democratic State Central Committee of Talbot County.

He also was a founder of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the West Talbot Improvement Association. For many years, Mr. Spencer was chairman of the St. Michaels utilities commission and housing authority.

"He was a history buff and always liked bringing up the fact that he was born on April 15, 1912, the day the Titanic went down on its maiden voyage to New York," said a daughter, Kathy S. Stovall of St. Michaels.

Born in Easton, Mr. Spencer was a 1928 graduate of St. Michaels High School and served in the Army during World War II.

He enjoyed gardening, woodworking and restoring antique automobiles, including a 1916 Willys-Knight touring car.

In 1934, he married Kathryn Harrison, who died in 1989.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in St. Michaels.

Other survivors include his wife of two years, the former Doris Rodney; a son, J. Rodney Spencer of West Hartford, Conn.; a step-son, James W. Rodney of Easton; a stepdaughter, Pam Rodney Harmon of McLean, Va.; three sisters, Mary S. Smith and Bessie S. Robinson, both of Easton, and Barbara Truitt of Gainesville, Fla.; and three grandchildren.

James Bonfield Marion, 78, plastics engineer

James Bonfield Marion, a retired plastics engineer who helped develop the plastic butt-plate for the M-16 rifle, died Sunday at Meridian Nursing and Multi-Medical Center in Towson from complications of heart disease. The Towson resident was 78.

Born in Pembroke, Ontario, he joined the Canadian army in 1940 and trained soldiers for overseas duty. He was discharged in 1946 as a captain and moved to Elkton, where he worked for a plastics assembly firm until 1959, when he moved to Towson.

After working for other plastics firms in the Baltimore area and in Richmond, Va., he joined AAI Corp., a Cockeysville-based defensecontractor, in 1967. He retired in 1987.

Besides working on the M-16 rifle at AAI , he developed plastic housings for weather rockets and tear gas canisters.

He was a member of the Baltimore-Washington Chapter of the Society of Plastic Engineers.

His hobbies included stamp collecting, community theater and shortwave radio.

Services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 6500 York Road.

Survivors include his wife, the former Constance Pauline Lawton, whom he married in 1943; a son, Michael Thomas Marion of York, Pa.; a daughter, Geraldine Louise Clay of Carney; a brother, John M. Marion, and two sisters, Betty Marion and Louise Kennedy, all of Toronto; and a granddaughter.

Helen Lillian Albert, 89, piano, organ teacher

Helen Lillian Albert, a music teacher, died Tuesday at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis of respiratory failure. The Annapolis resident was 89.

She was born Helen Goldstein on Greene Street in Baltimore and as a child had perfect pitch. She was taught to play the piano and organ by a brother.

"By the time she was 9 years old, she could play Chopin," said her son, Edward J. Albert of Annapolis.

Mrs. Albert graduated from Peabody Conservatory, and taught piano and organ at her home on Gwynns Falls Parkway. In later years, she taught at her home in Severna Park, where she lived from 1963 to 1984 before moving to Annapolis.

She also taught music and played the organ for the Eastern Star Beacon Chapter in Baltimore and was the first person to play the organ on radio in Baltimore at the old Center Theater's radio station on North Avenue at Charles Street, her son said.

In 1927, she married Morris Albert, who died in 1984.

Graveside services will be held at 12: 30 p.m. today at the Kneseth Israel Cemetery on Defense Highway in Annapolis.

Other survivors include two grandsons.

Clare F. Holt, 69, sailing enthusiast

A memorial service is being planned for Clare F. Holt, a former Ellicott City resident and sailing enthusiast who was found slain March 10 in Trinidad. The free-lance computer programmer was 69.

She had retired three years ago and since then lived aboard her sailboat, the Jofian, sailing the East Coast and the Caribbean with a friend, Roy Grabenauer of San Francisco.

Born Clare Fraser in New York City and raised in Providence, R.I., she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from San Jose State in 1969. In 1944, she married Foster Holt, who died in 1976.

Survivors include six daughters, Linda J. Holt of Ellicott City, Barbara Holt of San Antonio, and Nancy Holt, Diane Holt, Kathy Holt and Carol Guido, all of San Francisco; a son, Bill Holt of Livermore, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

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