Jim Spellman Left a Legacy of Kindness

2012 PNC Good Neighbor Award winner
Alexis Ann with PNC Past President Martin
(Marty) Pierce.

They’ve been dubbed the “Greatest Generation,” those who emerged from the Great Depression, fought a great war, built a modern nation. And there are those within that generation who chose to focus on what they knew and loved, building and preserving their own communities even as the country encountered social change and technological revolution.
Jim Spellman, Stonington’s First Selectman for 24 years, saw his town through an era of change. When Jim “reluctantly” entered civic life in 1948, Stonington was a proud small town, a group of villages, really, unblessed yet by the Interstate and the Internet. During his 1961 to 1985 tenure as Selectman, he helped transform it to a premier tourism destination and home to sophisticated industries…without abandoning its essential New England character, a fine place to live and work. Highways, water and sewer systems, new schools, new industries, all spelled “growth,” but the town’s true character remained, thanks in no small part to his guiding hand. Salute Jim on our back cover.
Though he passed away at 92 on September 28, his work, gentle yet forceful enough to achieve results, remains as his legacy. More subtly, from him we inherited a way of doing things, touched with humor and concern for the town’s best interests for the long term.
I remember Jim as the Dad of two of my high-school classmates in Stonington, Jimmy and Steven, both football players. We’d go over to their house, have fun with the other kids, and he’d always have a good word, an amusing question, maybe a bit of remembrance of his Good Old Days of leather helmets and iron men–and, yes, a touch of advice for us.  Stonington is the better for him; his advice remains, and we heed it still.
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