Spann leaves legacy of music, service in community

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Jerry Spann spoke the international language of music as well as anyone. He served his city as a teacher of music, as a director of choirs and as church organist.

Several generations of people in the Troy community have been influenced by Spann and his music. His death on Monday silenced his songs but his legacy will live on through the lives he touched with his music and the way he lived his life.

Joel Williams, president of the Troy Arts Council, of which Spann was a founding member, said Spann was a great friend and role model for anybody.

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“Jerry influenced me at an early age,” Williams said. “He taught me music in the first grade. We all loved going to Mr. Spann’s class. We had so much fun singing and learning folk dances. His class was like a second recess. In the fifth grade, we learned to play what we called the flutophone and we all loved going to music. We all loved and respected Mr. Spann.”

That same love and respect continued into manhood for Williams. He and Spann were fellow Kiwanians.

“Jerry was a member of Kiwanis for 60 years,” Williams said. “In fact, the international president of Kiwanis called one of our meetings to congratulate Jerry on his 50 years of membership and thank him for his service. Jerry was dedicated to his community and was a positive influence on so many of us. All who knew him will miss him.”

Lyra Crapps said, too, that Spann left a huge footprint on the community.

She knew Spann as a friend and the two of them also played music together for years at First United Methodist Church in Troy. Spann was church organist and choir director at FUMC before going to First Baptist of Troy as choir director.

“Jerry was the choir director at First Baptist for several years and, when he came back to First Methodist, we divided the position,” Crapps said. “I was the church organist and he directed the choir. Jerry was excellent to work with and we worked well together. His choice of music was inspiring and worshipful. The choir members respected him and worked hard to produce the music he wanted. He will be greatly missed at First Methodist and throughout the Troy community.”

Robin Sullivan was a member of Spann’s choir at FMUC and had great admiration for him as a man and as his choir director.

“Jerry Spann was probably the kindest gentleman I have known,” Sullivan said. “He was always pleasant and a joy to be around. He willingly shared his gift of music.”

Sullivan said Spann had a wonderful tenor voice and was equally outstanding as a director.

“A lot of times, a choir director is asked to select music that will coincide with the sermon,” Sullivan said. “Jerry was very good a picking out those songs. And he planned a variety of music for us to sing. Sometimes he might let the women sing; sometimes the men. We would have solos. One Sunday we might sing old favorites and, the next Sunday, contemporary music. He was an excellent choir director and a devoted Christian.”

Spann was active in the Troy Kiwanis Club as long as his health allowed.  Caleb Dawson, club president, remembers Spann as kind, genuine and reliable.

“Jerry was a joy to be around and a dedicated member of Kiwanis,” Dawson said. “He actually spearheaded the RIF, Reading is Fundamental, program for our club. He enjoyed reading to the children at Head Start and we could always count on him. He will be greatly missed in many ways.”