Jerome Mark Spector, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother-in-law, father-in-law, uncle, community member and cherished friend, died on Saturday, April 25, 2020, in Warwick from Covid19. He was 79.
Jerome was a gentle, talented, learned, creative, fun-loving, selfless, appreciative soul who brought more than his share of beauty into this world. For 30 years, he owned and operated Big Dipper Candles from his home in Chester, making handmade candles.
He and his family sold his wares by making the rounds of craft shows up and down the East Coast, and he supplied Jewish community centers, museum gift shops and synagogues around the world with his distinctive, elegant Hanukkah candles, which became an indispensable element of the holiday in countless households.
His artist’s eye for color and composition showed not just in his candles, but in the many gardens he maintained at home as well as in those he created and maintained for Congregation Eitz Chaim, the Seligmann Center at the Citizens Foundation in Sugar Loaf, the Village of Warwick and other nearby communities. Plants from his gardens are growing today in dozens of gardens tended by friends and family.
He created and built and nourished constantly, whether it was a sculpture out of found objects, a whimsical menorah out of a gourd, a cradle for his children and grandchildren or the Big Dipper mechanical arm itself.
Jerome grew not just flora, but family and community as well. He was the nucleus of the “Hugs Family,” a group of friends who lived communally on an old farmstead outside Bennington, Vermont, in the late 1960s.
Later, he was part of a weekly card game that met for more than 40 years, as well as a member of other groups that met for decades. He was an active member of Congregation Eitz Chaim for more than 40 years.
He had a free-wheeling spirit that inspired a life of traveling and spiritual seeking, including hitchhiking trips across the country and to Mexico, freighter passages to Europe and countless trips with his family.
Jerome lived his life without need or desire for recognition. He always acted out of his own quiet but unwavering commitment to Tikkun Olam – that Jewish principle of healing the world.
He initiated the Eitz Chaim Snack Program, which ensured that food reached needy children and families regardless of weather or other impediments.
For many years, he volunteered at My Father’s Soup Kitchen in Monroe. He was dedicated to a range of environmental efforts as well, in particular the work of the Orange Environment and the Orange County Land Trust. He helped friends and neighbors before they knew they needed help.
His slight frame belied his strength and stamina – for hiking, making music, consuming literature and art, and caring for his grandchildren every week. All this he did most often at the side of his beloved wife, Paula Elizabeth Spector, with whom he was planning to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month.
Born Aug. 31, 1940, in Troy, N.Y., he was the son of Augusta and Henry Spector.
Jerome graduated from Albany Academy in 1958 and received his bachelor's degree from University of Rochester in 1962.
In addition to Paula, he leaves behind the broken hearts of his daughter Jennie of Brooklyn; son Sacha of Sleepy Hollow; grandchildren Talia and Gabriel; daughter-in-law Daphne Uviller; sister-in-law Louise Silver, niece and nephew Sara and Jesse Silver; and hundreds of devoted friends. Jerome was goodness, light, and love incarnate. He left us too soon.
A graveside service was held on April 26, at the Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery, Spanktown Road in Warwick. Due to the COVID crisis, services were held privately for the immediate family.
Funeral arrangements are honorably entrusted to the Joseph N. Garlick Funeral Home (www.josephngarlickfuneralhome.com).