Will Spear had to leave Quincy in order to fall in love with the city.
"It took me a while to appreciate Quincy," he said. "I thought Quincy was a little small town and I wanted to move to the big city. I came to realize that the sense of community is worth living in a small town. It's a good town to raise a family."
After living in Chicago for several years, Spear returned to help be part of the family business. He's the fourth generation to work at Hansen-Spear Funeral Home. An active volunteer in several organizations, Spear has taken an active lead in helping the business get more involved with the community by sponsoring a contest through the funeral home's Facebook page. Once a month, Hansen-Spear gives out $100 to whichever non-profit organization gets the most votes in its Give Back contest.
"(The contest) was a fun way to do something online for me," he said. "Let's be honest, If I wasn't doing something interesting online, would you really want to come to a funeral home's Facebook page?"
Family: Wife, Dr. Kristin (Kanoy) Spear; parents, Jeff and Theresa Spear; brother, Capt. Nicholas Spear and his wife, Sarah
Education: Quincy High School; bachelor of arts in political science from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington; Worsham College of Mortuary Science, Wheeling.
Community involvement: Member of St. John's Anglican Parish, where I serve as treasurer and Outreach Ministry coordinator; soup kitchen volunteer, board member and treasurer of Horizons Social Services; Salvation Army Thrift Store committee; member and past chairman of the QHS Thanksgiving Tournament committee; Noon Kiwanis; In 2011, I started the Hansen-Spear Give Back Charity Contest online. This online contest is my way of engaging our online community through Facebook and my blog to support local charities in the Quincy area. Each month we give a $100 donation to the charity that receives the most votes in our contest and I get the opportunity to learn about worthwhile organizations that need help in the community.
What is your job, what do you do, what do you like best about it? As a funeral director, my job is to help people at one of the most difficult times in their lives. I help people celebrate the lives of their loved ones and take the important first steps on their journey through their grief. Arranging all the details -- big and small -- is an important part of what I do to make sure each family I serve has the funeral, memorial or celebration that they want for their loved one. The best thing about my job is that I get to work with people face to face and help them heal during the funeral and afterward.
What is your typical work week like? There is not really a typical work week in my business. Some days start early and end late, so I have to be flexible because my schedule can change at a moment's notice.
What was your first job, and what do you remember about it? As a fourth-generation funeral director, my first job was helping run errands, clean, do yard work and open the door for visitations. My first job away from Hansen-Spear was at skydiver registration at the World Free Fall Convention, when I was 15. I had a computer in the trailer at registration and entered all the skydiver information and health forms and filed them so if there was an accident or injury I could pull and copy the forms to give the paramedics.
How do you balance everything? Having a sense of humor certainly helps, but the most important thing is going home to a loving and supportive wife and partner who listens and is there to help me in everything I do.
Which person has influenced you the most and why? My parents, Jeff and Theresa Spear, have influenced my life the most. I am fortunate to be working with my parents each and every day and value the close relationship we share. I consider myself blessed to have been raised by loving parents who set boundaries and expectations throughout my life. They taught me right from wrong, and by their example, they showed me how to exercise a strong faith, the value of working hard, saving for the future, and being kind and generous. They have been the best role models I could have and their love and support is invaluable.
Have you failed at something? How did you recover? Yes. After my freshman year at college (2000) I had a major weight problem. I weighed 280 pounds and remained miserable. I was a binge eater and felt I had failed at life and was depressed. By 2007, when I moved back to Quincy, I tipped the scales at my maximum weight of 331 pounds. My road to a healthy, happy life was not easy, but on June 15, 2009, I made many major changes in my life and began a weight loss journey through exercise and healthy, natural eating. I based my diet on whole foods, and I primarily ate meat (protein), vegetables and fruit when I was craving sweets. From my peak weight, I lost 146 pounds by the fall of 2010. I now maintain a healthy balance with a wider, yet still healthy diet and am still more than 120 pounds under my maximum weight.
What does success mean to you? I see success as helping people and making our community a better place to live I think my view can be summed up by the words of Minor Myers Jr. former president of Illinois Wesleyan, "Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
What is your proudest professional moment? My proudest professional moments come when I get hugs from a family after a service, when a family invites me to stay with them and share lunch. These are the moments when I get to see the positive impact I have made in helping a grieving family. That is why I am a funeral director.
What is your favorite stress buster/leisure time activity? Reading a good book and enjoying a glass of Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay with my wife.
What is the biggest need in your community? I think Quincy is a great community and a wonderful place to live. I wouldn't move even if I won the lottery; however, there are always going to be people that need help in some way. Whether it's food, clothing, shelter or something else altogether, I think one of the biggest needs in our community is support for organizations that help those most in need. Two of the organizations that serve on the front lines helping people day in and day out are Horizons Social Services and the Salvation Army. I think people tend to believe that organizations like these have it covered and have plenty of help and funds. The reality is that food, clothing, monetary donations and volunteers are always needed. In my time spent volunteering at both of these organization, I know that it is hard to keep enough food on the shelves to provide to those who need the help of a food pantry.
What gives you reason for optimism in your community? No. 1 -- The ministry provided by Horizons Social Services and the partnership of 14 Christian churches of different denominations working hand in hand to help feed and minister to the hungry in our community gives me hope and an optimistic outlook for our community. How often do you hear of Anglicans, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, non-denominational Christians and Presbyterians all working together as one? I think this is an amazing example of Christian charity and of the quality of people we have in our community. No. 2 -- The Salvation Army meets many needs in our community, but it seems as if few people know that the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Quincy is designed to provide funds for the Emergency Shelter. All the proceeds from the Salvation Army Thrift Store benefit the John Gardner Stevenson Family Emergency Shelter. The Emergency Shelter assists individuals and families with temporary housing, life skills training, as well as housing the food pantry and helping people find employment. This is another example of Christian charity helping those most in need in our community. It is the dedication of individuals in our community that serve at organizations like these that make Quincy a great place to live. It gives hope to many for a better life. That is a reason for optimism.
If you could go back in time and give advice to yourself when you were in high school, what would it be? Honestly, I'm not sure I would want to give advice that might alter my journey in life. I did not do everything the right way and I made my fair share of mistakes, but I learned and grew from the troubles I had and caused myself. Those difficult times have shaped who I am and I can be thankful for the "character building" opportunities I had.
If you weren't working for Hansen-Spear what would you be doing? I would probably spend more time doing artwork.
If you could add a few more hours to the day how would you spend them? I would spend them cooking gourmet food.
Do you live by any mantra or saying? "This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18
Career aspirations aside, name one thing you definitely want to accomplish in your lifetime. I would like to have children and raise a family.