Murphy Funeral Homes


Joan McCaffrey Spenser

June 20, 1920December 23, 2020

Joan Spenser, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend passed away peacefully due to complications of COVID-19 December 23, 2020, at age 100. Joan, the eldest daughter of Edward McCaffrey and Irene Bates was born in Chicago, IL in 1920. Raised by her widowed mother in the midst of the Depression, Joan began to nurture her lifelong love of learning at an early age, winning a scholarship to attend Chicago Teachers College. Shortly after graduating in 1942, she moved to Washington, DC to work for the Department of Commerce. She met Charles “Spense” Spenser, her beloved husband of 63 years, at a USO dance on her first day in town. Joan and Spense married in 1946, and raised their five children in Silver Spring, MD. She attained an additional degree in library science from Catholic Univ. in 1964, and worked for Montgomery County Public Libraries as a children's librarian for 14 years.

After retiring, Joan and Spense spent many years in AZ and CA before settling at Falcon’s Landing in Potomac Falls, VA. Joan had many years to enjoy her retirement and filled her days with volunteer work, travel, and visits with friends and loved ones. A devout Catholic, she remained active in Bible study and served as a Eucharistic minister. She never lost her love of learning, attending classes in history, literature, and political science well into her 90s. Joan’s humor, kindness, intelligence, and sense of fun endeared her to anyone who was lucky enough to know her.

Joan is survived by sons John (Cheryl), William, and James (Patricia), daughter Kathleen (Randall), 15 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Charles "Spense,” daughter Joanne (Stephen) Engstrom, and sister Cecile (Walter) Hill. A celebration of her life will be held when pandemic conditions permit. Joan will be interred alongside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.


Joan McCaffrey Spenser

have a memory or condolence to add?

Katrina Engstrom

January 16, 2021

My Grandma will always be an extremely important person to me who played a big role in my childhood and adult life. I remember when she worked at the thrift shop she would buy me t-shirts with my favorite animals or little toys for me to play with when I spent the night at her and grandpa’s house in Petaluma.
I remember we always had salad at dinner and vegetables were always a big part of any meal.
Grandma was always enthusiastic about getting out for an adventure and taking us to places like San Francisco.
She listened to me and taught me so much. She was able to meet my oldest child Atilio in 2019 and I remember watching her as she looked at my son. She couldn’t take her eyes off him and repeated how adorable he was. Her absence is felt and we will love her always .
Love, her granddaughter Katrina

Richard Spenser

January 15, 2021

Dear Grandma,

You will always remain in our hearts and memories. It is impossible to convey how much joy and love you shared with all of us growing up, and a piece of that is missing since you left us.
I know that you are in peace now, affirmed in your lifelong faith in God and Christianity, and reunited with grandpa and your parents.

Yours was a life well lived, from the countless visits to and from your children and the extended family that loved you, to the worldwide travels of early retirement that I remember you talking about.

I am and will be forever grateful for our time together.

Rick and family