Spencer Wood Morten Jr.
October 4, 1922 – May 11, 2017
Spencer Wood Morten, Jr., age 94, died on Thursday, May 11, 2017 in Martinsville Memorial Hospital. He was born on October 24, 1922 in Saint Louis, Missouri to Spencer Wood and Josephine (Audraine) Morten and was the older of two sons. He was married to the love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Bassett, on June 11, 1949 in Bassett, Virginia. He was the father to four, grandfather to nine, and great-grandfather to 2.
Spencer’s family, friends, and co-workers knew him to be generous, genial, and genuine. He treated his children and grandchildren to a world of fun and wonderment: his paramount legacy to them will be countless surprise and delight memories. His friends knew him to be inquisitive and a font of information. In a single day, he would listen raptly to his mechanic “buddy” about the carburetor on his truck, and later amuse a dinner party audience with a detailed recommendation about restaurants in Florence, Italy. His employees knew him to be 100% genuine.
He was open and honest in conversation, and clear with his decisions. Above all, he trusted his co-workers to manage the business, and tolerated their honest mistakes. In return, his employees’ affection for him was genuine.Spencer will also be remembered for his treasured affiliations. Anyone who has watched the video Morten The Medic knows how great a role his World War II military service played in his life. His anecdotal history of the war was required listening for the family. He was proud of the bronze star he won for risking his life to save others, but his life-changing moment came at night during the Battle of the Bulge, when answered prayers compelled him to deepen his commitment to his Christian faith. The post-war GI Bill allowed him to attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He was a devoted alumnus of the university and proud member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. It was W&L’s school of journalism that dispatched him to the Martinsville Bulletin, where he was employed when he met his wife and started his family.
In 1951, he began a 50-year career at Bassett Mirror Company, where he is widely regarded as the visionary entrepreneur that transformed a small family business into a national brand for decorative furniture and accessories. Within the home furnishings industry, he was one of the first CEOs to introduce global sourcing. His world travels – often accompanied by his wife – left him with a lifelong love of English pubs and Italian dining. While he sat on many corporate boards, he was most proud of his service on numerous Baptist-affiliated boards in Virginia. After his retirement from Bassett Mirror, he was an active member of two congregations: Pocahontas Bassett Baptist Church in Virginia, and Christ Memorial Chapel in Hobe Sound, Florida.
He was a collegial man of the highest order, and club memberships were important to him. He was a Mason and Kiwanian, and member of the Society of the Cincinnati and Chevaliers Du Tastevin. He was also an active member of the Bassett and Chatmoss Country Clubs in Virginia, and the Jupiter Island and Hobe Sound Yacht Clubs in Florida. Moreover, he could be found almost every weekday morning at 10:00, having coffee with other World War II veterans in either Virginia or Florida.
Spencer is survived by his beloved wife, Mary Elizabeth; four children, Sarah Fisher, Bill, Spencer and Greg; nine grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Funeral services will be held on Monday, May 15, 2017 at 2:00 pm at Pocahontas Bassett Baptist Church, 120 Bassett Heights Road, Bassett, Virginia. The family will greet friends from 3:00 to 5:00 pm on Sunday, May 14 at the home on 975 Riverside Drive in Bassett, and again at church on Monday from 1:00 pm until the time of service. There will be no graveside service.
The family thanks the doctors, nurses and staff at Martinsville Memorial Hospital for compassionate care during his final hours, Drs. Paul Eason and Anthony Bleyer for their exceptional medical oversight, the caregivers who helped him live life as fully as possible to his last day, as well as Ophelia Norman and Flora Dulin for making his days comfortable and easy. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Spencer’s name to the Bassett Historical Center at 3964 Fairystone Park Highway, Bassett, Virginia 24055.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017