Dr. Robert M.'s Story
Dr. Robert M. Spellman, M.D. died peacefully on March 6, 2017, from complications related to being 94 ½ years old. With this event, the world lost a disproportionate share of its intellect, elegance, character and humor. Dr. Bob excelled at the art of living and improved the lives of everyone he met along the way. He was a man for all seasons who, to paraphrase Kipling, walked with kings, yet kept the common touch. A student of history, politics, medicine, music, Latin dance and Boston sports, he never stopped learning and died with his “books on tape” by his side. He could critique Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet, recite the roster of the 1948 Boston Braves and speak with equal ease about Victor Hugo, Dustin Pedroia, World War II, transplanting kidneys, the Catholic Church, duck hunting, Rocky Marciano, golf, Chinese cooking and the musicians of the Basie, Miller, Ellington, Goodman, and Woody Herman big bands. But he would enlighten only when asked and do so without pretention or arrogance. Plus, he knew 213 good to excellent jokes and delivered them flawlessly.
Dr. Bob was swimming laps in the Edgewood Retirement Community pool and dancing salsa with his daughter until a month before he died. A few days before passing, he called his eldest son to his side and whispered, “Just so you know, the first 94 years were better than expected, but the second 94 are trying my patience.” He was beautiful to the end.
Robert Martin Spellman was born at home in Roslindale, Mass., on July 15, 1922, to Dr. Martin H. Spellman of Whitman, Mass., and Louise Norris Spellman of Charles Country, Maryland. He was the nephew of the late Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York.
Dr. Bob graduated from Sacred Heart School, Newton Center in 1940 and entered Fordham University. After three years he was admitted to Georgetown University Medical School and graduated in 1946. He then served his country for three years as a Navy Lieutenant JG. He completed his surgical residency in urology at the Cornell Medical Center and from 1953 to 1954 and was in charge of Cornell’s surgical research program at New York Hospital.
In 1955 he returned to Boston and began a 42 year association with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and 36 years with Tufts University Medical Center. In 1957 he was Director of the Stanton Surgical Research Lab at St. E’s and became a member of the American Board of Urology and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. In 1963 he was appointed Chief of Urology at St. Elizabeth’s and Clinical Professor of Surgery at Tufts New England Medical Center. He also was the Chief of Urology at the Chelsea Soldiers Home for 25 years. In addition to his private practice and teaching, he developed a number of surgical techniques and published dozens of research papers.
Dr. Spellman retired from medicine in 1998 at the age of 76. In 2000 he developed Macular Degeneration and spent five years at the Braille Institute in Rancho Mirage, Calif. At the tender age of 81 he joined the staff of the institute as a volunteer instructor. Upon the death of his wife, Patricia in 2012, he returned to Massachusetts where he resided at the Edgewood Retirement Community in North Andover, Mass.
Dr. Bob was predeceased by his wife, Gloria Hamel Spellman of Bradford, Mass., and wife, Patricia Mulcahy Spellman of Brighton, Mass. He is survived by five children, Robert, Jr. and wife, Amanda of Merrimac, Mass., Susan Spellman McGovern and husband, Jay of Newburyport, Mass., and sons, William of Boynton Beach, Fla., Michael and wife, Carolyn of North Palm Beach, Fla., and Francis of Jupiter, Fla. He leaves ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Dr. Spellman requested a private funeral service and that his family later host a celebration of his life. Plans are in the works and will be announced to family and friends in the near future. Cards of condolence may be sent to Ms. Susan Spellman McGovern, 23 Arlington St., Newburyport, MA 01950. Those inclined may donate a memorial gift to The Braille Institute of America, 741 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029, .
Services are in the care of The Grondin-Carnevale Funeral Home, 129 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill, MA 01830. Online condolences may be made by visiting .
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