Steven Sears Spencer

Date of Birth

August 27th, 1929

Date of Death

July 11th, 2015

Memorial Meeting

Santa Fe Monthly Meeting


Steven Sears Spencer, 85, on July 11, 2015, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Steve was born on August 27, 1929, in Philadelphia.  He graduated from Swarthmore College, where he met his wife Joan.  He went on to earn his M.D. from University of Pennsylvania Medical School and was awarded a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.  Steve believed that the greatest value in life came from helping others and he dedicated his life to trying to make a difference through service.  In the 1950’s he served as Senior Assistant Surgeon and Chief of Outpatient Services for the US Public Health Service, based on the Navajo reservation. Steve enthusiastically seized an opportunity to work with a man he greatly admired, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, in 1960.  His experience working at the Lambarene Hospital in Gabon inspired and influenced him for the rest of his life.  Steve had a private practice of internal medicine in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he also established a coronary care unit in the Flagstaff Community Hospital.  As a faculty member of the University of Arizona Medical School, Steve founded the Commitment to Underserved People Program, a special educational and enrichment program for medical students.  Steve had various hospital staff appointments, including Medical Director at the Navajo Nation Health Foundation and Sage Memorial Hospital and Associate Professor at the University of Dar es Salaam, Department of Medicine in Tanzania.  He published many articles and received numerous fellowships, grants, and honors.  In 1985, Steve became Medical Director of the New Mexico Corrections Department and, when he “retired,” continued as an independent consultant in correctional health care.

Steve and Joan hosted traveling Friends and opened their home for various Quaker events.  A member of Santa Fe Monthly Meeting for many years, Steve served on committees and participated in larger gatherings of Friends.  Along with Joan, Steve was one of the founding members of the N.M. Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, which was instrumental in the ultimate repeal of the death penalty in New Mexico.  He also served on the board of the St. Elizabeth’s Shelter in Santa Fe.  Steve was an avid fly fisherman and a member of the Santa Fe Men’s Camerata and other singing groups.  He loved skiing, camping, spending time with family, and world travel. 

Steve is survived by his wife of sixty years; their four daughters Beth, Peggy, Sally, and Becky; his brothers Douglas and David; and seven grandchildren.  A memorial service to give thanks for Steve’s life was hosted by the United Church of Santa Fe on August 8, 2015.  The church choir and the Santa Fe Men’s Camerata led the vocal music, hymns that had special meaning for Steve and that he enjoyed singing.

Steve’s mantra was printed on his memorial flyer:

Simplify and beautify. Carefully create.  Love, honor, and help others. 

Each day, celebrate.