Members of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance family were saddened at the passing of industry stalwart Walter Spence Jr. on April 19, 2013.
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1966, Spence entered the Air Force as an officer. In 1973, Captain Spence left the Air Force, moved his family to Marianna, Fla., and joined Tri-States Automotive Warehouse as vice president for sales and operations. He took over as president in 1975 and continued in that capacity until his death.
During his 40-year career in the aftermarket, Spence made his presence felt with numerous contributions to the improvement of the industry. He served on a variety of AWDA committees and was a past member of its board of directors. Tri-States Automotive Warehouse was a charter member of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance and Spence served on the Auto Value and Alliance boards for a total of 21 years. He was a sitting board member at the time of his passing.
"Throughout his career, Walter had a profound understanding of the importance of continuous learning," said John Bartlett, CEO of Automotive Parts Headquarters in St. Cloud, Minn., and current chairman of the Alliance board of directors. "He received the Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award in 2012 and was a member of the Automotive Technology Advisory Committee at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla."
According to Bartlett, "Walter’s commitment to training the next generation of automotive leaders at all levels had him participating in projects like the production of automotive training videos at Chipola College. Chipola’s Automotive Technology program turns out terrific educational videos and Walter was always there to help.”
Eli Futerman, co-president of Hahn Automotive Warehouse in Rochester, N.Y., and secretary of the Alliance board of directors, remembers Walter as a tireless contributor to the betterment of Auto Value and the Alliance.
“Walter had a vision of where we needed to go as an organization," Futerman said. "He championed growth and expansion. He also was always looking out for the interests of our smaller shareholders. He will be sorely missed.”
As a tribute to Spence and the significant role he played in his business, his church, his community and the aftermarket overall, but especially his contributions to aftermarket education, the Alliance board of directors has announced a memorial of $100,000 will be donated to the University of the Aftermarket Foundation (UAF) in his memory.
"Walter was an astute and prolific aftermarket businessman. His input will be missed not only at Tri-States, but within our group and the industry at large as well," said John R. Washbish, president and CEO of the Alliance. "His passion for education was unparalleled. Nothing would make Walter happier than having companies and individuals making pledges to the UAF in his memory. Those who are so moved can send a check or a pledge to the University of the Aftermarket Foundation."
Contributions may be sent to:
University of the Aftermarket Foundation
7101 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
For questions or more information on the University of the Aftermarket Foundation, contact the program administrator, Barbara Cunningham, at 816-584-0511 or visit www.automotivescholarships.com.