Tom and I were shocked, and saddened by the news of Larry's death. We want you to know that we send our deepest sympathies. We have good memories of Larry from our early days in Centre County -- they seem very far away now. Time goes by so quickly.
Condolence: Very sad to hear of Larry's death. He was my advisor when I came to Penn State back in 1989. He is the reason I decided to study political theory. It's impossible to say how much I learned from him. I didn't master "the canon" with him, but I learned how to write, and how to think, and that matters so much more. The last time I saw him was at his retirement--it was actually the first time I ever called him "Larry!" I'm not surprised to hear he was thinking about teaching right up to the end--he was born to do it! I wish every university had someone like him. He will be missed.
Dr. Spence was my favorite professor at Penn State. He taught using the Socratic Method which was a challenge but it really made us think. My future husband, Ken Shaffer (1958-1996) and I took his Political Theory class and I will never forget it. He really made the theorists come to life and the theories relevant today. He gave me great confidence as well. I ended up becoming a "teacher" since I aced the first paper. Being a teacher was no cakewalk because it meant that I had to be prepared to answer questions. I learned a lot.
We kept in touch for awhile after moving to CA to go to Berkeley - like he did many years ago according to his obituary. (We ended up going to UC Santa Cruz instead, which we loved). Some years later I came back to State College which is my hometown and looked him up. He was very excited to see me and I was so happy that he remembered me.
I am very sad I won't get to see him again, but he gave me so much that I think he will always be with me. We have all been fortunate to have known this inspiring, kind, funny and brilliant man. He was a revolutionary in his own right.
Rest in peace, Dr. Spence (Larry)!
Condolence: Larry and Maya were wonderful friends of mine when we all attended U.C. Berkeley in the 1960s. Larry was a great, and abiding, influence on my life and I will greatly miss him. My heartfelt sympathy and condolences go out to Maya, Duncan, and the rest of Larry's family.
Condolence: Maya, although we've sung together in the UUFCC choir for the last year or so, I never connected you with Larry Spence--who honestly changed my life.
I joined the Penn State faculty in 1997, after working in a Washington, D.C. research center for about 15 years. I’d picked up some teaching experience in a Johns Hopkins master’s program, but my second semester course at Penn State was my first experience with undergraduates. And it did not go very well.
After seeing the student ratings, I found my way to a teaching seminar offered by Larry through the Schreyer Institute. His title was something like, “Forget the Funnel,” as in “teaching is not about pouring knowledge into students’ heads.” In about 90 minutes, Larry completely changed my understanding of teaching and learning! I left with all these new ideas about building from what students already knew, learning as making connections from familiar concepts to new concepts, and teaching as structuring opportunities for students to try out and make use of the material they were supposed to learn. It was one of the most important days of my life! I’m sure I never became the teacher that Larry was, but he had a HUGE impact on my experience as a faculty member over 17 years—and what my students got out of my classes.
I'm sad to know that Larry is gone and that you have lost such a special companion. You both are in my thoughts.
Condolence: Duncan, Jen, Carson and family-
What a dynamic & fascinating man Larry was! It's no wonder his son and family turned out so brilliantly. I am truly sorry for your loss, and will pray that you're able to find peace & solace in your fond and fun memories with him. We love you so much.
Nick & Nance
Condolence: Dear Duncan, Jen and Carson, We were so sad to hear of your fathers passing. We wish you peace with all the wonderful memories you have of your life filled with your fathers love. We send our deepest sympathy. If we can help you in any way , we are only a phone call away. Sending prayers.
Condolence: Spence family, I am sorry for your loss. As one of Larry’s many cousins, I remember being enamored by him when I was a little girl. Our paths did not cross again until much later in our lives, and I discovered I was still enamored by him...such a gentle, kind, soft-spoken man...my cousin. Peace be with you, Larry, and your family.
Condolence: The world is a little sadder place with the passing of Larry. We met in a philosophy class @ the University of Louisville where I was trying to make up mind whether or not to believe in God. Typically, Larry suggested I stop trying to treat the divine existence as a belief and start treating it as a fact. There were many clarifications that followed and Larry taught me to think in new ways even though it may prove to be painful. He was wonderfully patient with me. It just doesn't seem to be enough to merely say "Thanks Larry". I promise to pray sincerely for you & for your family.