Spencer Lively
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
His legacy

3rd Annual
Memorial Toy Drive
Benefiting the
Warren County Rescue Squad
308 NEW toys
& 2 NEW bicycles


The American Red Cross sponsored the
3rd annual
MEMORIAL Blood Drive
Warren County Administrative Building
Saturday, December 15, 2006
12 noon – 6pm

49 - pints collected
10 - first time givers
147 - lives saved

Written by Meredith Cope - for her English 1010 class  
14 September 2006 

Where There is Love There is Hope 

Those who are full of promise seem to leave the earth too early and the impact they make upon us is never more apparent than when they are gone. Edward Wagenknecht wrote of the tragic death of Marilyn Monroe, her death affected many around her, even those she didn’t know. “The death of the young is always bitter because I can’t but feel that they have been cheated out of what life promised them, and deprived themselves, they have also deprived us of what they might have continued to give us down the years.”(Wagenknecht 184). 

Losing a dear friend, a friend who you confided in and a friend who always gave the best hugs at just the right times, is like losing a part of your soul. A part of my soul is at Salem Cemetery in McMinnville, Tennessee where it has been since December 16, 2003, with William Spencer Lively, IV. 

In my sophomore year, all English II honors students were required to write an essay about a person who impacted our lives in a positive way for our semester exam. The day of exams came and since our class had already completed the exam we were allowed to watch a movie. The day had just begun when a school official came to our doorway and asked to speak to the teacher in private; I was too busy trying to sleep to notice she had come back in until she turned the lights on and turned off the movie. The look on my teacher’s face was one of sheer shock and sadness. The only words I heard come out of her mouth were those I will never forget “Spencer Lively was found dead this morning at his house….” The world stopped, and the breath was taken right out of me at that moment. Many things are blurry to me after that but the one part; the hardest part of everything, was finding Natasha, my best friend, to tell her that Spencer, the one guy she loved, was taken from her. My mouth seemed to stop working and the only words that could escape were “he’s gone…Spencer’s dead….” We wrapped our arms around each other and fell to the floor in a heap of sobs and tears. I hope one day the look on her face will fade from my memory, but most days it is more than I can handle. By this time the school was complete chaos, and rumors were already beginning to swirl. Students said horrible rumors like, “Spencer committed suicide. They found him in his basement, he hung himself.” 

No, I refused to believe that Spencer would kill himself. Not someone who had such an amazing life, not someone who wanted to change the world, and most importantly not someone who loved life as dearly as Spencer. My mom came and saved me that day. She did not say a word the whole way home and when we got to my house I fell into bed and cried. It was at that moment I truly understood the meaning of a broken heart because it was then that I literally felt my heart break. My mom got in bed with me and held me while I slowly fell apart and to her I will always be grateful for the silent but amazing comfort she offered to me. I could not see beyond that moment in my life, and I desperately racked my brain for every single memory of Spencer. 

In the days leading up to Spencer’s funeral service, I, along with so many of Spencer’s friends, was in a complete daze. Exams were postponed and basketball games were cancelled. The whole county mourned the death of Spencer, whose family is well-known in Warren County. Spencer’s step-father was the new principal of our local high school, his mother was a former high school cheerleading coach and his great-grandfather was a historical figure in McMinnville. 

The day of Spencer’s service the sky threatened snow, and the wind was brutally cold. To say Spencer was well-liked by fellow students is an understatement, the turn out for his service took up two churches, still with people busting out the doors. As I sat there with my mom and one of my teachers, I looked around and saw the hurt in everyone’s faces and the tears rolling down their faces. Spencer’s minister, American history teacher, and Boy Scout master all spoke of what an amazing, virtuoso, kind-hearted, and intelligent person he was. Natasha did not know that when she chose to write about Spencer’s impact on her life for her English exam that she would soon read it to a packed church at his funeral service. She stood there trying to be strong, trying not to lose it, and most of all trying not to remember that the love of her life was gone. After everyone spoke, a slideshow began to play with pictures of Spencer’s short time here on earth. As I walked to the casket to say my final goodbyes to Spencer, I felt like the world was spinning too fast and that at any moment I would wake up from this wreck of a lifetime. I knew the sweet vibrant guy I had come to love over the past five years was there in front of me, but it was not him, it was not my gorgeous Spencer. The short walk to the front of the church, to where the person who was going to change the world laid lasted an eternity, and then in a heartbeat I was standing at his final resting place. 

The ugly gray sky opened as the people who loved Spencer most walked to his grave, and the sleet fell all around the broken hearts. Seeing guys I have grown up with cry as they carried the casket of their best friend was hard but watching a mother put her child in the ground is even
harder. No one should ever have to watch their own children be lowered into the ground. Then, it’s over, and I thought, ‘Okay, the hardest part is over.’ Unfortunately, I was mistaken. 

I cannot remember the exact moment I found out the true story of Spencer’s death but I remember a sense of calm coming over me. Spencer did not commit suicide like so many theorized; Spencer was one of the ever growing number of teenagers to lose his life playing the ‘choking game’. People play the choking game to receive a short high by stopping the flow of oxygen to the brain. Even though Spencer lost his life to that ‘game’, his death made people more aware of the dangers of the game. 

I still keep a small circle of people close to my heart, Natasha Gerstenschlager, David Stanley, and Cathy Bennett. Natasha, David, and I have so many wonderful memories with Spencer, when the three of us get together we know Spencer should be there laughing with us. Those memories will last a lifetime. The strongest person I know is Spencer’s mother, Cathy Bennett, through the whole ordeal this woman held her head high and her arms wide open. Through his death, Spencer brought me closer to Cathy. She is the person I look up to and the person I confide in, but most importantly she is a link to his memory.

From Chad McGee Spencer's AP History Teacher  
I often gave Spencer a hard time about being a social scientist waiting to happen, because I clearly saw in him the intellectual curiosity and writing skills it would take to make a great historian, political scientist, or activist. He thought deeply about politics, society, religion-human interactions. People were very important to Spencer and understanding the relationships between people was critical for him and his worldview. As a passionate young man, he often espoused his desire to "oust George Bush" and end what he saw as an unjustified and politically motivated war killing innocents on both sides. He recognized the inherent inequities and problems of American Society.

Spencer and I were talking about college choices, his ACT, why history is important (an argument that I never quite won), and what struck me most about that conversion was a statement that I hope to remember throughout my life. Spencer said that whatever college he attended he wanted to go somewhere and study something in college that would help him to make the world a better place. That's a commitment I believe Spencer wanted to live up to. He was acutely aware of the world's injustice and the focus on hatred that sometimes dominates our world. He didn't embrace that. He was smart enough to want to seek out ways to make life better, kinder, and fairer for those living in it.

Use Spencer's life as an inspiration to learn, to understand, to achieve the knowledge necessary to change the world. Don't be afraid or overwhelmed by the things in the world that Spencer recognized needed to be changed, but instead help make that goal a reality-use your life to make the world a better place. I want to quote from a poem written by Spencer that gives us a glimpse of his talent:
 "And when the sun sets the gold fades into the majestic mast. If orange spills to yellow and they drop into red
They from the silver lining projected through my head.
When your able to listen to the silence and recognize a symphony, maybe you'll be ready to become one with me."

From Natasha G. A Very SPECIAL Friend  
My dear friend William Spencer Lively IV, has shown me that the "key to success" is not worrying about pleasing everyone.

Spencer ia a nonconformist. He does not wear Abercrombie and Fitch clothes, but old t-shirts and sandals. His face is a mixture of friendly blue-green eyes, a welcoming smile, and shaggy hair. Not only are his many diverse talents displayed through his music and poetry, but also in his extraordinary vocabulary and school work. His open-minded approach to life is merely an intelligent way to prove his maturity.

My life is constanly being influenced everyday, but Spencer has had the most dramatic. During our continuing friendship he has opened my mind to so many ideas and thoughts. Through his actions he has showed me that "jumping on the bandwagon" isn't my only option in life, to be intelligent is not to be a nerd, and that being yourself is always more fun!

He always put school before fun, friends before himself, and his self-image before other's image of himself.
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