Paul R. Spear ’73
Valrico, Fla.—Captain Paul R. Spear, 65, of Valrico, Fla., died Sunday, May 29, 2016. He had suffered from frontotemporal disorder for several years. He was born March 8, 1951, 3 minutes earlier than his identical twin brother Peter, in Portland, Maine, the son of Robert and Lorraine Spear. He attended school on Peaks Island through eighth grade, graduated from Portland High School in 1969, and was top of his class in 1973 at Maine Maritime Academy, Castine. Peter and Paul grew up lobstering in Casco Bay with their father and then by themselves, and put themselves through college with the proceeds.
Paul’s seagoing career included 19 years with Exxon, where he attained the rank of captain. During this time, he met his wife Jerilyn, who also shipped with Exxon as steward. As one of Exxon’s most highly regarded captains at that time, Paul was tapped to helm the Exxon Valdez when the ship left the repair dock after the 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, but turned down the assignment to remain with his wife and young son. Paul subsequently spent 22 years as a Tampa Bay pilot, piloting more than 5,000 ships in and out of the bay without incident, a fact of which he was extremely proud. His accomplishment was acknowledged by the U.S. Coast Guard upon his retirement in 2013. When the MMA training ship State of Maine was last in Tampa in 2004, Paul had the honor of piloting the ship into and out of the bay. This year’s training cruise also docked in Tampa, and the captain and ship’s complement honored Paul’s passing on June 2 as it left Florida waters. Paul’s 40+ year career was spent in the ocean transportation business on east, west and gulf coasts of the U.S.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 37 years, Jerilyn (Lipsett) of Valrico, Fla.; son James of Houston, Texas; daughter Susannah of Valrico, Fla.; father Robert Spear and companion Ann Hulser of Sebago, Maine; twin brother Peter Spear and wife Caroline of Stonington, Maine; sister Carol Pike and husband James of Portland, Maine; brother Richard Spear and partner Allison Pederson of Phippsburg, Maine.
A funeral mass and burial were held Friday, June 3, 2016, in Pottsville, Pa.