Thomas J. Spina, 86, Chases Lake

CHASES LAKE – Thomas James Spina, 86, died peacefully, Sept. 6, 2021, surrounded by family, in his Rochester, NY home.

Tom is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ruth Bleshoy Spina, his two children, Rick (Barbara Giaimo) of Detroit, MI and Linda (David VanDeusen) of Glenmont, NY; as well as four grandchildren, Rebecca Chambers (Kirk Shimkin) of Downingtown, PA, Andrew Chambers (Lauren Duda) of Denver, CO, Jillian Spina in San Francisco, CA and Kendall Spina in St. Louis, MO.

Tom was born to Lula and John Spina of Lowville, New York on May 22, 1935.  He was raised in the loving home of his grandparents Mary and Frank Gould in Lyons Falls, New York. Upon his 1953 graduation from Lyons Falls High School, Tom went on to complete a 1957 Bachelor’s degree at Syracuse University School of Management.  Although having a job offer in hand, Tom took out time to fulfill his military commitment as an Air Force Special Investigator in Montgomery, Alabama. Tom worked on both personnel and international tensions during his 2 & ½ year stint. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Tom’s active duty creating interesting memories.  Returning to civilian life, he began a life-long career with Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (later known as CIGNA) within Group Sales.  He rose in the company to become a Regional Vice President for large accounts.

This career saw Tom and his family moving from Ossining, NY to Mountainside, NJ to West Suffield, CT.  Yet his most cherished home was the “camp” he built and enlarged at Chase’s Lake in the Adirondacks. Today it is viewed by all three Spina generations as a family center.  Ruth and Tom spent 17 years living full time in the  camp after their retirements.  Large expanses of river rock masonry were built there by Tom over the 55 years owning the camp.  It has provided many years of fishing, hunting, skiing and generally enjoying North country living.  Time “away from camp” for Tom and Ruth included traveling adventures with 17 self-guided road tours of Italy plus commercial tours of China and much of South America.

Tom was often chosen for committees and boards throughout his adult life: From Fire Commissioner, Board of Education member, and Town Council rep in NJ to serving as a Trustee of Chase’s Lake Shoreowners’ Association for several decades, to the Lewis County Hospice Board through being a board member of St. John’s Foundation in Rochester, NY.

Tom’s interests were many and wonderfully varied.  He put forth his rich bass voice in choruses and church choirs.  SPBSQESA, the national organization of barbershop singers, claimed his membership and devotion.  He was a loyal fan of Syracuse University sports, gardened, taught his grandchildren all about the woods & nature, enjoyed coaching Little League baseball, doing intricate jigsaw puzzles, and even created beautiful needlepoint. He never met an animal he didn’t like, especially hummingbirds, cats and his beloved cocker spaniels.

Survived also by many extended family members and friends who loved and respected him, he will be missed by all.  Tom was a gentle and generous man; devoted to family.  He gave much richness to his world.

Calling hours will be 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 13, at Sundquist Funeral Home on State St. in Lowville.  A funeral will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Trinity Episcopal Church also in Lowville, NY. Burial will follow in Wildwood Cemetery, Lyons Falls, NY.

In lieu of flowers you may wish to donate to The American Heart Association or to the National Wildlife Federation in Tom’s memory.

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