Francis Spreen Jr. '52 July 11, 2023 4:53 PM updated: July 11, 2023 4:59 PM
Francis Frederick Spreen, Jr.
July 28, 1930 - June 25, 2023
A month shy of his 93rd birthday, Francis Frederick Spreen, Jr. left his earthly life. He was born July 30, 1930, in Houston, Texas, to Vallie Alverta Carter and Francis Frederick Spreen.
Francis grew up on Heights Boulevard and attended John H. Reagan High School, graduating in 1948. While there, he became an Eagle Scout, learned to collect stamps and coins, ran track and played baseball, a sport he would eventually teach his two sons, Scott and Doug, how to play. He would confidently help them practice their pitching skills in the front yard of the Watts Road house with only a catcher’s mitt as his protection.
Following high school, Francis attended the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M University, becoming a member of the Corps of Cadets and forever a Keeper of the Spirit. For years he took his family to College Station and showed them The Quad, reminiscing about the Corps. At football games the family was taught to stand in the spirit of The 12th Man and sway shoulder-to-shoulder while singing, “Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!”, the opening lyrics of the Aggie War Hymn. He carried that Aggie spirit to his death, proudly sporting TAMU clothing on a daily basis. In 1952, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and became 2nd Lieutenant Spreen after receiving a commission from the United States Army.
While on a semester break from college in 1951, Francis was set up on a blind date with the lovely Thelma Geyer. After a long-distance courtship and college graduation, the couple married in 1953, in Houston, Texas. Not long thereafter the newlyweds were shipped out to Okinawa, Japan, where he served two years during the Korean War. When Francis and Thelma returned from Japan, he became active in the U.S. Army Reserves and retired at the rank of full Colonel in 1982. His awards included the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal.
While living in Naha, Okinawa, Thelma and Francis began their family and welcomed their first son, Scott. After returning to Houston their family was complete with the addition of Doug and then Camille. They became faithful members of St. Matthew Lutheran Church where Francis served on the Board of Elders and was Sunday School Board Superintendent for many years. He was a loyal employee of Brown & Root, Inc. until his retirement in 1982, and was a proud member of the American Institute of Architects. During the 1970’s, Francis was asked to relocate his family to Tehran, Iran. For reasons his family is now grateful, the transfer never came to fruition.
The years in Houston raising a family with Thelma were filled with many activities. They were no strangers to Lamar High School sporting events between Scott’s and Doug’s basketball and baseball games as well as football games where Camille was a cheerleader. Over the years there were countless camping trips to Garner State Park, Lake Huntsville, Somerville, Livingston and Conroe. Francis enjoyed teaching his children how to sail, drive a motor boat and water ski during their many lake trips. Grilling became a favorite task of his; whether camping out or lighting the grill at home Francis could be found with a scotch & water with a lemon twist in one hand and tongs in the other.
The imaginative cogs of Francis’s engineering mind were always at work with ways to improve his family’s lives. It all started early in the 60s when the Larchmont house was too small to accommodate a new model train set for the boys. So, Francis set up the track, not forgetting all the faux villages and countryside details, on sheets of plywood that were attached to a pulley system. Thelma was particularly thrilled with the fact that they could raise the entire tableau into the garage ceiling when not in use. He kept that same spirit of ingenuity during their time on Watts Road in the Southgate neighborhood by greatly improving the value of the family home. After nearly 30 years of marriage, Thelma lost her courageous battle with cancer in that home in 1981.
Francis later began dating Thelma’s college roommate, Jean Beilharz, and eventually relocated to Kansas City, Kansas, to be near her, and in 1989, the couple married. During his 35 years in Kansas City, he worked 15 more years for Black & Veatch Architects/Engineers and was a devoted member of Our Savior Lutheran Church. He enjoyed pheasant hunting and spent time on the golf course whenever possible. Much later in life, as his health began to decline, his children moved him back to Houston.
Francis is survived by his children, Gregory Scott Spreen and wife Rebecca of Houston, Texas; Douglass Geyer Spreen and wife Lynn of Houston; and Camille Spreen Montondon Peeples and husband Robert, of Westminster, Maryland; grandchildren Rhett Scott Spreen and wife Kim of Houston, and great-grandsons Preston Scott, Pierce Fredrick, and Palmer Chase; Rachel Spreen Ponder and husband DJ of Keller, Texas, and great-grandsons Dylan Eiland and Sawyer Matthew; Elyse Spreen Herr and husband Tyler of Houston; Caroline Montondon and Michael Montondon, both of Los Angeles, California; many nieces and nephews; step-daughters Becky Beilharz, Bethany Beilharz Humphrey, Gretchen Beilharz, of Kansas City, Kansas, and three step-grandchildren.
He is predeceased by his wife and mother of his children, Thelma Mae Geyer Spreen (m. 1953; died 1981); and Jean Hackler Beilharz Spreen (m. 1989; died 2023); sister, Alverta Spreen Look (Fred); and parents, Vallie Alverta Carter Calvit (Joe) and Francis Frederick Spreen.
Family and friends are cordially invited to a visitation on July 6, 2023, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at Forest Park Westheimer, 12800 Westheimer Road in Houston. Francis will be laid to rest next to Thelma on July 7, 2023, at 9:00 AM at a burial with full military honors. A memorial service will be held later in the day at 2:00 PM in the chapel at Forest Park Westheimer in Houston, with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please do something to improve the life of another.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.forestparkwestheimer.com for the Spreen family.
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Forest Park Westheimer Funeral Home and Cemetery