Novemeber 24, 2004


Posted on Wed, Nov. 24, 2004

Spencer Gettys, 88, stonemason

By Kristin E. Holmes

Inquirer Staff Writer (

Spencer Gettys, 88, of Rosemont, a retired stonemason who returned to college in his 60s and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education, died of complications from pneumonia Thursday at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Mr. Gettys had worked as a stonemason for 25 years when he decided to try teaching.

He landed a job at what is now the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington and began sharing the masonry skills he had perfected over more than two decades.

Eventually, the new direction in his career led Mr. Gettys to pursue his own education. To improve his teaching, he enrolled at Temple University.

He graduated with honors. A graduate degree from Antioch University followed. The degrees capped an education that had been interrupted when Mr. Gettys quit what is now Delaware State University because he was getting married and needed to support his family.

By then he had already been a star football player at Radnor High School and played catcher with Atlantic City's Bacharach Giants baseball team, part of the Negro National League.

He settled in Rosemont with his wife, Alice Manigault Gettys, and the couple became active in the Radnor Township Civic Association, which was founded to help poor people during the Depression. She was president of the organization for 20 years, and Mr. Gettys took over after her death in 1998.

Two years later, he was named grand marshal of the Rosemont-Garrett Hill Fourth of July parade. At age 84, he led the celebration by walking throughout the neighborhood where he had lived for more than 50 years.

Surviving him are daughters Barbara Gettys Hamilton and Alice Gettys Downs; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A viewing will begin at 10 a.m. Friday at Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church, 15th and Christian Streets, Philadelphia. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Rolling Green Memorial Park, West Chester, PA.


As a follow-up note, Negro League researcher, Mr. Wayne Stivers, found that Spencer Gettys played catcher for the Bacharach Giants in 1937.