Denny passed away at his home in Sandy Springs, GA. He died peacefully on a beautiful Sunday morning after attending virtual worship with his wife by his side.
He was born in Kinston, NC, to Annie Blanche Herring and Randolph Denard Spear, Sr. He was the older brother to Tommy and Herbie.
Denny graduated from Grainger High School (‘50) and Wake Forest College (‘54). He received a Master of Divinity (‘57) and Doctorate of Divinity (‘73) from Southeastern Seminary.
His greatest partner in life and ministry was his childhood sweetheart and wife of 67 years, Varion Elizabeth Herndon of Kinston. Together they raised their six children in Aberdeen, NC, and Dunwoody, GA.
For the first 20 years of his ministry he led faithful congregations in eastern North Carolina and Georgia through the civil rights movement and Atlanta’s rural to suburban expansion. Denny served the next 30 years as an ecumenical chaplain at Days Inns of America, Allied Transportation, and the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He has served as a Vice President and Trustee of the Cecil B. Day Foundation since its formation in 1968. Denny was Pastor Emeritus and continuing member of Dunwoody Baptist Church.
Denny’s call to ministry defined his life. He shaped the faith of many with his mild manner and gentle connection. Denny was a lifelong student with a love of books, hats, old hymns, North Carolina beaches and mountains, BBQ, travel, gardening, religious studies, recordkeeping, writing, painting, sculpting, sketching, peanuts, and toothpicks. He cherished Varion and and their large, close-knit family who will forever miss his dry humor, his thoughtful prayers, and his words of wisdom and encouragement. We will seek to answer his question, “How did you see God today?”.
Denny is survived by a family who will miss him dearly including Varion and their children Ann Spear, Amy Yearwood (David), Randy Spear (Lauri), Julie Hammond (Doug), John Spear (Wendi), Susie Purcell (Brian), 17 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, his brother Tommy Spear of VA, nephews, and cousins.
A service will be held at Dunwoody Baptist Church at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made in Denny’s name to Developmental Disabilities Ministry of GA, 6320 Amherst Court, Norcross, GA 30092 (ddmga.org) or Dunwoody Baptist Church Missions (dbc.org).