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Norma S. Spencer

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Date published: 12/29/2012

Norma S. Spencer

Norma S. Spencer, 90, of Ruther Glen died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her loving family, in a private nursing home in Glen Allen, on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2012.

She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Dr. Frederick J. Spencer; her daughter, Gillian Spencer of Baltimore; her son, Tony and his wife, Danielle, of Ruther Glen; her sister, Jorie Wetchler, of Chicago; and four grandchildren, Lauren Spencer Meyer, Nicholas Spencer Meyer, Josie Spencer, and Charlie Spencer.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Della Spector of Indiana Harbor, Ind.; and her sister, Julia Phillips of New York City.

Born in Chicago in 1922, Mrs. Spencer was a brilliant student who won a full academic scholarship to Purdue University, where she graduated in the first class of the engineering school to include women. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she enlisted in the first cadre of the Women's Army Air Corps; in addition to serving as her company's bugler, she finished at the top of her class in flight control and eventually became the trick chief in charge of the flight tower at Truax Army Airfield in Wisconsin.

Following her honorable discharge with the rank of technical sergeant, Mrs. Spencer lived in San Francisco, where she joined in the celebration of V-J Day and worked first as a statistical draftsperson for the Oakland Dry Dock and later as a statistical analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank. While in San Francisco, she took up acting and appeared in a play with Orson Welles.

In 1947, Mrs. Spencer moved to New York City, where she became one of the first women to trade on the New York and American stock exchanges. During the seven years she lived in New York, she worked also as a fashion model and as an operative for a private eye agency. With other veterans, she organized protests against racial discrimination in the city's subsidized housing.

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