An Unassuming Man: Norval Spalding

He was a little short guy who always sported a mischievous grin and always carried a few hundred dollar bills in his wallet. While generally a quiet person, he was not afraid to speak his mind when he decided it was necessary to do so. A repository of homespun wisdom, he would often preface a profoundly helpful statement with the words, “I might me wrong, but.” He was always spot on.

He worked for Ford as a service manager for decades and assumed responsibility for keeping the cars of my youth running. One day while in his 60’s, his boss asked him to pad the service invoices with an extraneous charge as an on-going practice. He refused to do so and resigned on the spot. Immediately other dealerships were courting him and a huge portion of his customers and most of his mechanics followed him to his new employer, even though, it was a GM dealership.

By the way, his name was Norval. He was my father-in-law and one of the most respected and influential people in my life  Many of you will not know him, especially since he passed away over thirty years ago. I will never forget him. 

He pretty much underwrote our early married years by taking us everywhere and paying for everything, as well as, loaning and giving us money as needed. 

He and I had many conversations about all manner of things, often while dinner was being prepared, since Patty and her mom were good at that and we were notoriously ungifted cooks.

He treated me with more respect than I had earned or was due. He had time for conversation and he would do anything that would truly help me.

I still miss him.


Here he is with our daughter, Michelle. He loved his grandchildren deeply.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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