Robert K. Spencer
Robert Kirkwood “Bobby” Spencer, 84, retired educator, minister, entertainer, and historian of Scottsville, passed away on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at Morningside of Charlottesville.
A lifelong resident of Scottsville, he was born on October 30, 1935, the son of the late Kirkwood Alexander Spencer and Louise (Pitts) Spencer.
He was a former Scottsville Town Councilman and Mayor and in 1994, had served as Chair of the Celebration Committee for the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of Scottsville and Albemarle County. Active in many civic affairs, he received the 2004 A. Raymon Thacker Citizen of the Year Award from the Scottsville Chamber of Commerce.
Prior to his retirement in 1992, Bobby had served 34 years on the staff of Fork Union Military Academy where he was Chairman of the English Department and was Special Services Officer. He also taught Sociology, Journalism, Public Speaking, and Drama. An ordained Baptist minister, he had served numerous churches in Central Virginia as an interim and guest minister.
An actor and entertainer from an early age, he was widely known to several generations as “The Amazing Kirkwood” or “Kirkwood the Magician” and was a noted show producer and Master of Ceremonies for civic and charitable organization fundraisers. During the 1950’s through the ‘70’s, Bobby took his magic show’s “Adventures in Amazement,” “Artful Deception,” and “Magic with a Message” to county fairs, rural schools, churches, community centers and small town theatres throughout the southeast.
For Scottsville’s celebration of the US Bicentennial in 1976, Spencer produced and directed the outdoor pageant “Of Town and the River,” which told the history of Scottsville on the James with a local cast of characters of over 100. In 1982, he was one of the first magicians on the East Coast to volunteer to participate in David Copperfield’s Project Magic, a program using simple magic effects to help physical therapists in rehabilitation of patients with cognitive and motor skill disabilities.
He was founder and first President of the Horseshoe Bend Players, a community amateur theatre group and in recent years, had headed the project of remodeling and reopening the historic Victory Hall Theatre in Scottsville. He was a founder and First President of the Scottsville Council for the Arts and Nature and had donated land to be used for the Sunnyside Music, Arts, and Nature Center.
As a journalist and historian, Spencer contributed articles to numerous newspapers and magazines and formerly wrote a nostalgia column “A Time to Remember.” He had served on the Board of Trustees of the Scottsville Museum and Historic Landmarks and was a longtime President of the Board. He was a historian of Scottsville Baptist Church, his home church, and was a member of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. Recently, he had published a book on the life and legacy of a prominent 20th century magician, and he was working on another about the “unforgettable characters” of Scottsville’s past. He was continuing to compile and edit previously written material for two other books to be entitled “A Time to Remember” and “Horseshoe Bend Memoirs.”
Spencer was a proud graduate of Scottsville High School and held degrees from the Universities of Richmond and Virginia and also studied at the Southeastern Theological Seminary in North Carolina. In 1990, he was recognized as “Outstanding Teacher” by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. He had been a member of Phi Delta Kappa Professional Education Fraternity and the American Mental Health Counselors Association. Other memberships include the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians Order of Merlin, the Scottsville Lions Club, the Scottsville Senior Skippers, the American Mentalists Association and the Parapsychology Foundation.
Survivors include two first cousins: William R. “Billy” Pitts, Jr. and his wife, Ellen and Edward P. “Pat” Pitts and his wife, Baxter, all of Scottsville; special friends: Shane and Kirsten Thomas and their daughter, Sydney, and Cenie Re Moon Sturm and her husband, Everette, all of Scottsville; devoted friends and magic protégés: James F. Miller of Charlottesville and Ian Browning of Scottsville; and a host of other friends throughout the area.
A private family graveside service will be conducted at the Scottsville Cemetery. A memorial service celebrating Bobby’s life will be held at a later date once everyone can safely gather together.
Those desiring may pay their respects between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at Thacker Brothers Scottsville Funeral Home. Due to current COVID-19 guidelines and state mandates, the use of face masks and practicing social distancing will be required.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Scottsville Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, PO Box 100, Scottsville, Virginia 24590.
Family and friends may share memories and photos online at www.thackerbrothers.com.
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