Thomas Grady Spires


HAMILTON - Thomas Grady Spires, known to all simply as "Grady," passed into glory peacefully at the age of 91 years on Tuesday, August 27th at The Residence at Riverbend in Ipswich. In his final days he was surrounded by family, who rejoice that Grady has gone home to be with the Savior that he loved so dearly and served faithfully his entire life.
Grady was born in Miami, Florida, on June 6, 1928 to Alfred Clinton Spires and Mildred Evans Spires, the third of five siblings, the late Evans Spires, the late Clinton Spires, Eunice (Spires) Hoffman, and Mary (Spires) Rynd. He met his wife, Marian Elizabeth White, of Schenectady, NY, at Penial Bible Conference, and were married on May 23, 1953. Later, after Marian's death, Grady remarried to Catharina Swart of Beverly, on June 2, 2005.
Grady graduated from Miami High School in 1946, then from Davidson College with a B.A. in 1950, then went on to study under eminent Reformed philosopher Cornelius van Til, earning a bachelor's degree in Divinity from Westminster Seminary in 1953. After Westminster, he moved to Boston, completing a Masters in Sacred Theology at Harvard Divinity School, and continued on in pursuit of a PhD, with graduate work at Free University of Amsterdam. While in his doctorate program, he felt called to teaching in Christian higher education and started as a Professor of Philosophy at Gordon College in 1956.
Grady continued to teach at Gordon for the next 42 years, becoming a beloved fixture at the school until his retirement in 1998. His roles at Gordon included not only professor but also department chair, academic advisor, faculty senate chair, professor for European Seminar, visiting professor at Daystar University in Kenya and much more; twice he was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1969, then again in 1998). During his tenure at Gordon, he wrote a significant portion of his doctoral thesis - inspired by Dutch Reformed philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd - but tragically lost the thesis in an office fire at the college. On May 26, 2005, Grady was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Westminster Seminary, honoring his incredible contributions to his field and his tenacious efforts to obtain his doctorate.
Grady was known for his incredible warmth, his genuine joy, his vivacious smile and greeting, his infectious interest in all things philosophical and theological, his intellectual curiosity, and his well-grounded character and faith. He was a true Renaissance man, often performing his famous "bottle-cap tap dance" at faculty talent shows, acting in many theatrical productions - both at Gordon and beyond - and singing and playing jazzy piano long into his older years, including for the residents of his retirement community. He stayed active until well into his older years and he spoke Dutch, German, and also knew Greek and Hebrew as a result of his theological studies.
Outside of life at Gordon, Grady was a founding elder of First Presbyterian Church North Shore, in Ipswich, where he served faithfully as an elder for many years and was an integral part of church life for over six decades. He taught at Peniel Bible Conference - the place he met his wife Marian, a camp named after the place where Jacob encountered God in the Old Testament - in upstate New York for many summers, also becoming an indispensable part of that community. He also gave his time to the C.S. Lewis Foundation, where he was a founding trustee, working to preserve Lewis' legacy and his estate in England.
Finally, Grady was a loving husband, father, and grandfather as well. He is preceded by his first wife, Marion (White) Spires, and survived by his second wife, Catharina (Swart) Spires. He is also survived by his four children and their spouses: Karen (Spires) and John Capps of Flagstaff, AZ, Jo-Alice (Spires) and Ken Stockwell, of Danvers, Cindy (Spires) and Frank Purdy, of Hamilton, and Thomas Spires of Amesbury; 11 grandchildren, Krista, Nicole, Alison, Kayla, John Michael, Janel, Sarah, Josiah, Jennifer, Johanna, Jonathan and six great-grandchildren, Talya, Emmett, Lucas, Wyatt, Selah, and Rowan.
A memorial service for Grady will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 2 pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 179 County Road, Ipswich. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed. Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich. To leave a condolence please visit
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Published on September 6, 2019
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13 posts

Judy Dean
Sep 15, 2019
Dear Spires family, I am praying for you at this very hard time, and grieving with you. Grady is an amazing man and I miss him very much. He knew me from the time I was born, as he and my dad, Lloyd Dean, were the philosophy dept. at Gordon at the time. I've attached a wonderful memory from the Gordon yearbook of those years. They were also co-founders of the Presbyterian church in S. Hamilton. I was so happy to be able to be a student of Grady's when I was at Gordon, to attend that same church during my Gordon years with Grady and other profs and students, and to see him on campus many times over the years. God blessed my father, my family and me through this wonderful scholar, teac...her and friend. Thank you for sharing him with our family. Sending our love and prayers to you, Judy (for my mother, Myrle, and sister Janice, too).Read more
Sep 12, 2019
To Grady, an original. Spend any time with him and leave feeling better about yourself, not because of any inferiority on his part but his pure delight in you and whatever you were about. Sometimes he spoke too fast for my ears but whatever words I missed were made up for by his can-do attitude. Grady was quick to say "yes" to wild ideas for a faculty/staff talent show or take a seat at the piano or toss back his head and sing bluesy-like or tap dance with bottle tops. What's not to appreciate about someone who loves God, you and life itself with his whole heart, while dancing to a different beat.
Barry Loy
Sep 11, 2019
Grady's energy, solid faith, and personal encouragement helped motivate me in my work at Gordon. It was great that we both had some shared North Carolina roots. I'm praying for God's comfort for family and friends.
George Cottenden
Sep 10, 2019
I had the privilege of serving as Grady's undergraduate Departmental Fellow in 1963-64. Working that closely with such a gracious and godly Christian man left me with wonderful memories. My wife Barbara and I were also part of First Church during those founding years and so got to know Grady in that setting as well. We thank God for him.
Phyllis Waldie
Sep 10, 2019
I had Grady my sophomore year at Gordon for Philosophy. He was not only a dedicated and dear teacher but also a great friend to students. His love for Jesus and warmth for his students was evident to all.
Barry Fritz
Sep 09, 2019
To Grady's Family:
Kindly remember him during my time with the Northshire Christian Mens Choir.
He was always a very helpful and gracious fellow member!
He will be sorely missed!
He is with God and Grady is smiling down on all of us!
God Bless his Soul!
Jerry and Margo Mann
Sep 09, 2019
Our condolences to Grady's family. He was an inspiration to many at Peniel. Over the years we would hear his greeting 'Hey, Man'............many countless memories of sharing, fun, and his warmth. He is definitely in the Light of The Lord!
Linda Chaousis
Sep 09, 2019
Grady Spires -so many many of us have had very special times with him. Condolences for the whole family. You will be missed by so many.
Kathy Selitto
Sep 08, 2019
Sincere condolences. He sounds like such a wonderful man. He will be missed by many. RIP
Chery churchill
Sep 08, 2019
Grady decided to build up his driveway with rail road ties he found in a dumpster in Danvers. At the time I was rooming with his daughter Joalice an we had a Chevy pick up! Grady called us an asked for help with truck, next thing I knew Grady an I were hauling those big logs out of dumpster an putting them in back of truck, off to Hamilton to unload!!! He made a Great Wall which is probably still there today!!!! Love to u Grady an I enjoyed every minute of it 😃❤️
Carlene Purdy
Sep 08, 2019
So sorry for loss of such a great man. My sincerest condolences to the family. Grady, You've always been a servant to our Savior. Now is your time to rejoice with him. Rest in Peace dear man. You will surely be missed by so many
Gordon Christian
Sep 07, 2019
I spent 1 week at Peniel in 1980. The experience was everlasting. Grady was a very memorable part of that week. Thank you Grady for a life very well lived.
Jeanne M Keyser
Sep 06, 2019
I send my deepest sympathies to his whole family . Remember all the good memories!!!
God Bless,
Jeanne Keyser