menu

Celebrating the life of

Brenda Hensley Spencer

July 27, 1944 - January 04, 2020

Brenda Hensley Spencer

Brenda Hensley Spencer passed away on January 4, 2020 at home surrounded by her family.   She is survived by her spouse of 53 years, Jay Spencer, Jr., her son Jay Spencer III, her daughter Jennifer Spencer Rivera and son in law, David Rivera.  Two sisters, Jacqueline Hensley Edwards and Frances Hensley and her spouse Jim Okey also survive. Brenda was born in Morganton, North Carolina and loved the place where she grew up and always thought of it as home.

Brenda was an educator and lifelong student, earning degrees from Appalachian State University, the University of Tennessee, and a doctorate in reading education from Oakland University. Teaching young people to read and love literature was a passion and lifelong dedication. She retired as a full professor of Elementary and Bi-Lingual Education from California State University, Fullerton where she taught future teachers. Through them her influence continues on as a legacy to her.

She was a voracious reader, often times reading two or three books at the same time and sharing them with friends and family. Brenda was open minded and accepting of people of different backgrounds. She attended Asbury United Methodist Church which shared her values.

Brenda was active in her community through Friends of the Coastal Gardens, The One Hundred Children’s Fund, and Girls on the Run.

She loved her family and home on the marshes of Savannah. Brenda supported local restaurants, stores, music events, and performances. She was an avid participant at the Savannah Music and Film festivals. Brenda also loved traveling the world, learning about people and places with her favorite travel companion and spouse Jay.

Brenda stayed in touch with friends from her childhood in North Carolina and all the others she made over the years as she and her family moved from North Carolina to Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, California and finally returning to Georgia in retirement.

Brenda is preceded in death by her mother and father, Glenn Hallyburton Hensley and Jack M. Hensley both of Morganton, N.C. and her beloved golden retrievers Journey and Cali.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to the Mayo Clinic (www.philanthropy.mayoclinic.org) or Hospice Savannah (www.hospicesavannah.org).

Services will be private.

SHARE YOUR CONDOLENCES

GUEST BOOK

Dear Jay and family, We are so very sad to learn of Brenda's passing. We didn't know her well but came to your home at least twice to play couples canasta. Both you and Brenda were so very welcoming and so enjoyable to converse with and play our fun game. I also played with her at a "girl's game" at Lynne Schwartz' home. You only had to meet Brenda once to feel a warmth and closeness that she emitted. We are so very sorry for your loss and really a loss to our entire community. We hope that wonderful memories will comfort you during these difficult days and weeks. God Bless! Lynne and Bob Norton

- Norton, Savannah, GA


Jay and Family, we will so miss our dear, dear friend. Brenda and Kathi met as teachers at CSUF. She was a brilliant and outstanding scholar, a passionate and caring teacher, and a fierce friend. Brenda and Kathi spent many hours at desks in a shared office debating and plotting better ways to help our students develop into critical thinkers. We were often so much on the same page that we would show up to teach wearing similar outfits - oh, it must be brown suit day! Once we got our husbands involved in our friendship the fun really started. There are so many adventures we will always treasure - New Orleans, CA wine country, Victoria, San Francisco, Turkey and Greece. We were so honored to be guests in Savannah and experience and learn to love and appreciate their part of the country. So many treasured memories and much shared laughter! We join with you in celebrating a much-loved and deeply loving person and a life well lived.

- Kathi and John Angus, Yorba Linda, CA


Jay Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Dave and Lynne Canham

- Dave and Lynne Canham, Savannah, Ga


I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda through an organization entitled, Landings Working Women. We both had an Academic CA connection and we had fun sharing information about the state we left to semi-retire to the South. Through the years, Brenda helped me with LWW, answered questions, and gave me clear and straight-forward answers when I asked for her input. She had meetings at her home and even hosted the big year-end party one year. Jay was right there beside her lending a hand, wherever needed. Periodically, we would get together at her home or ours for dinner and the 4 of us would talk and laugh until the wee hours of the morning. I will miss this wonderful friend and am glad I have some pics of her where I can recall the event and smile! Jay, call us day or night if we can help in any way. Life is just not fair! Love you Brenda!

- Gordon and Kye Daniels, Savannah, GA


Frances and Jackie. I am so sorry for your loss. Many memories of our childhood and MHS Praying for you all. Sharon Ferree Harben

- Sharon Ferree Harben, Matthews, NC


Many hearts are broken today. I’m one who is blessed to have known Brenda my entire life. On my “ Favorite Aunts List “ as a kid, and yes, kids had and have those lists, Aunt Brenda was always at or near the top of the list. And I have been blessed with many unique and treasured Aunts I can promise you. The competition was tuff. She never wavered from the top of my Aunt list and as I became a man, my “Truly Favorite Human Beings on Earth List “, as well. It was not until the last few treasured conversations that I had with her that I may have really understood why because there were many reasons I loved Brenda. It was her character. Sitting near Brenda was sitting near a warm fireplace. You have heard the saying, ‘a person who gives of her self to give the gift of living to others’ . That’s the way Brenda treated me. She cared. Every one asks how you doing. Brenda wanted to know how you were doing. What unique gifts God gave Dr. Brenda Spencer, and I feel I only scratched the surface. Jay, Jennifer, David and Jay and all my family.-We were blessed.

- Mike and Robin Bates , Smyrna , TN


Dear Jay and family, We are so very sad to learn of Brenda's passing. We didn't know her well but came to your home at least twice to play couples canasta. Both you and Brenda were so very welcoming and so enjoyable to converse with and play our fun game. I also played with her at a "girl's game" at Lynne Schwartz' home. You only had to meet Brenda once to feel a warmth and closeness that she emitted. We are so very sorry for your loss and really a loss to our entire community. We hope that wonderful memories will comfort you during these difficult days and weeks. God Bless! Lynne and Bob Norton

- Norton, Savannah, GA


Jay and Family, we will so miss our dear, dear friend. Brenda and Kathi met as teachers at CSUF. She was a brilliant and outstanding scholar, a passionate and caring teacher, and a fierce friend. Brenda and Kathi spent many hours at desks in a shared office debating and plotting better ways to help our students develop into critical thinkers. We were often so much on the same page that we would show up to teach wearing similar outfits - oh, it must be brown suit day! Once we got our husbands involved in our friendship the fun really started. There are so many adventures we will always treasure - New Orleans, CA wine country, Victoria, San Francisco, Turkey and Greece. We were so honored to be guests in Savannah and experience and learn to love and appreciate their part of the country. So many treasured memories and much shared laughter! We join with you in celebrating a much-loved and deeply loving person and a life well lived.

- Kathi and John Angus, Yorba Linda, CA


A candle has been lit!

- John and Kathi Angus , Califo


Jay Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Dave and Lynne Canham

- Dave and Lynne Canham, Savannah, Ga


I had the pleasure of meeting Brenda through an organization entitled, Landings Working Women. We both had an Academic CA connection and we had fun sharing information about the state we left to semi-retire to the South. Through the years, Brenda helped me with LWW, answered questions, and gave me clear and straight-forward answers when I asked for her input. She had meetings at her home and even hosted the big year-end party one year. Jay was right there beside her lending a hand, wherever needed. Periodically, we would get together at her home or ours for dinner and the 4 of us would talk and laugh until the wee hours of the morning. I will miss this wonderful friend and am glad I have some pics of her where I can recall the event and smile! Jay, call us day or night if we can help in any way. Life is just not fair! Love you Brenda!

- Gordon and Kye Daniels, Savannah, GA


A candle has been lit!

- George Abernathy , North Caro


Frances and Jackie. I am so sorry for your loss. Many memories of our childhood and MHS Praying for you all. Sharon Ferree Harben

- Sharon Ferree Harben, Matthews, NC


Many hearts are broken today. I’m one who is blessed to have known Brenda my entire life. On my “ Favorite Aunts List “ as a kid, and yes, kids had and have those lists, Aunt Brenda was always at or near the top of the list. And I have been blessed with many unique and treasured Aunts I can promise you. The competition was tuff. She never wavered from the top of my Aunt list and as I became a man, my “Truly Favorite Human Beings on Earth List “, as well. It was not until the last few treasured conversations that I had with her that I may have really understood why because there were many reasons I loved Brenda. It was her character. Sitting near Brenda was sitting near a warm fireplace. You have heard the saying, ‘a person who gives of her self to give the gift of living to others’ . That’s the way Brenda treated me. She cared. Every one asks how you doing. Brenda wanted to know how you were doing. What unique gifts God gave Dr. Brenda Spencer, and I feel I only scratched the surface. Jay, Jennifer, David and Jay and all my family.-We were blessed.

- Mike and Robin Bates , Smyrna , TN


A candle has been lit!

- Jennifer Spencer , North Caro


A candle has been lit!

I met Brenda and Jay through Brenda's sister, Jackie, many years ago and was a visitor in her home in Savannah several times and also was privileged to accompany the whole family on several vacations. I was welcomed into the home and the family as if I were a part of the family. The warmth and welcoming spirit that Brenda possessed were a special gift for those who met her. My heart goes out to the family and I grieve with them at the loss of this sweet mother,wife,sister friend.

- Barbara H Goodson,NC, Raleigh


Colin and I have been friends with Jay and Brenda for over 40 years. We will miss Brenda very much. We felt so lucky to have Jay and Brenda living close to us. Colin and Jay worked together in Detroit, Knoxville and Miami while I worked for Brenda in a Title I reading program in Pompano Beach. Since Brenda and Jay moved to Savannah, we have enjoyed going to Asbury Memorial UMC together for services and other outstanding church-sponsored activities. We have also enjoyed going to plays presented by local theatre groups. We will treasure the memories of good times spent with Jay and Brenda. All who knew her will remember Brenda fondly as a kind and and dependable friend.

- Jacqueline P Stewart, Savannah, GA


Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
912-352-7200

  • Services Will Be Private