(1922 - 2011)
SPENCE, J.B., 89, of Coral Gables, Florida, passed away Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 at Doctors Hospital. He was born March 31,1922 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the son of Pansy Pearl and Bryan Spence and is survived by his four children: Mark, Martha, and Gary of Miami, Florida and John Spence of Gainesville, Florida. At age 17, J.B. joined the U.S. Navy and served on the U.S.S. Roper,the U.S.S. Ruben James and the U.S.S. Thomas J. Gary covering the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific and South Pacific. He described his six years in the Navy as some of the happiest times of his life. After being discharged from the Navy he returned to Miami. He painted houses, worked in a hardware store, mowed lawns and drove a laundry truck. He enrolled in Lindsay Hopkins night school and earned his high school diploma in 1947. A friend of his suggested he go to law school after he acquired college credits at the University of Miami. In 1951 he earned his Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Miami, where, in later years he served as Board Member and President of the Law Alumni Association, adjunct professor in trial technique, and was honored to have a scholarship established in his name. His first legal position was as an assistant Attorney General of the State of Florida, serving under then Attorney General and later Supreme Court Justice Richard W. Ervin. After meeting the legendary Florida trial lawyer. Perry Nichols, J. B. was offered an associate position with the firm of Nichols, Gaither and Green, from which all his later successes sprang. He was the cherished senior partner of Spence, Payne & Masington, and its success or firms, for 25 years. J.B. became and remained one of America's most talented and renowned personal injury trial lawyers, handling the widest variety of cases involving injury and death from falls, auto collisions, aviation crashes, product failures, and, especially, medical malpractice for which he had a national reputation. J.B., was a member of local, state, and national bar associations: The Florida Bar (Board of Governors), Dade County Bar (President), Dade County Trial Lawyers, Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers (Secretary, Vice President, President), The Association of Trial Lawyers of America, The International Academy of Trial Lawyers, The Inner Circle of Advocates, The American Board of Products and Professional Liability Attorneys (President) and The American College of Trial Lawyers. Listed in The Best Lawyers in America, J.B. was a faculty member or guest lecturer at multiple venues, including The National College of Advocacy, and Harvard Law School. He served the State of Florida as a member of the Third District Court of Appeal Nominating Commission, and as a member of the Constitutional Commission. He practiced law for more than 60 years and was revered and respected by his legal colleagues. He was mentor to many, and friend to all. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, December 3,.at First Unite d Methodist Church of Coral Gables, 536 Coral Way, Coral Gables, Florida. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the DAV, Disabled American Veterans, or take an ill person to an appointment or have lunch with an older adult. Funeral Arrangements by View this Guest Book at www. MiamiHerald.com/obituaries.
Published in The Miami Herald on December 1, 2011