In the midst of celebrating the end of the school year, student accomplishments, the performance of the spring musical, art show, and saying goodbye to retiring faculty and staff, we pause to honor the life's work of former faculty member and legendary coach, Spencer "Spence" Wright P'72, '75 who died at the age of 94 on May 16, 2019.
Proctor Academy’s athletic program was forever changed the day Spence Wright arrived on campus in the fall of 1951. As a history, math, and economics teacher, Spence applied a no-nonsense, disciplined approach in order to get the most out of his students. His coaching style varied little from his approach to teaching as his football, hockey, and baseball teams received clear instruction in pursuit of a shared goal, and equally clear punishments when they fell short of the effort and focus Spence desired. After reintroducing a varsity hockey team at Proctor in 1955, Spence went on to lead the team to a league championship just three years later. Commanding the sidelines of Leonard Field, the Proctor Pond hockey rink, and Farrell Field’s baseball diamond with equally impressive understanding of both sport specific tactics and adolescent psychology, Spence left an indelible mark on Proctor’s athletic program during his twenty-one years at the helm.
As Proctor’s first athletic director, Spence utilized his unique combination of irrepressible optimism, high expectations, and loving humor, to form, and sustain relationships with his students and players that lasted for decades following their graduation. His commitment to Proctor's athletic program, but more importantly to the boys on his teams, defined a generation of Proctor students who to this day cherish their relationship with their coach and their teammates.
Spence impacted hundreds of young men in the same way he changed Curt's life. He held them accountable, and in the process helped them realize who they could become. While no one at Proctor today had the privilege of working with or being taught be Spence, many of us have seen a glimpse into his deep impact on this school during his visits back to campus, most recently for Alumni Reunion in 2017. The stories he and his former students shared are from a by-gone era at Proctor, but the example he set as an educator lives on. Few photos better capture the impact we can have as educators than the one below of Spence walking across the field hand in hand with Artie Pratt '56 in the fall of 2012. May we each be so dedicated to our students that the young people we are teaching today are willing to hold our hands into old age and carry our legacy onward for the next generation of our Proctor family.
We do not yet have information for a memorial service for Spence Wright, but will share on this post once we do.