Through Rain and Heat, Don Spencer '59 Bikes 500 Miles to Attend Reunions

Don Spencer '59 was the first alumnus to arrive for Reunions 2012.
Don Spencer '59 was the first alumnus to arrive for Reunions 2012.

As Hamilton celebrated the 200th anniversary of the signing of its charter this past week, Don Spencer ’59 was celebrating his birthday as well. While turning 200 might initially seem like a grander feat than turning 76, Don Spencer’s 76th birthday was far from unremarkable. That’s because Spencer turned 76 while riding a bicycle in the midst of a nearly 500-mile journey from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Hamilton’s Bicentennial Alumni Reunion in Clinton, N.Y.


Spencer’s 500-mile journey was completed alongside fellow cyclist Frank Gmeindl, who split off from Spencer’s route in order to tour the Finger Lakes on Tuesday. Apart from a few wrong turns and getting caught in Tuesday’s downpour, Spencer’s ride could not have gone better. He and Gmeindl followed the Underground Railroad Cycling Route and Cycling Route 5 for the majority of their journey, traveling light and stopping at hotels along the way.


Spencer is no novice to cycling, having completed a cross country tour and a tour across Europe, but this is his first major tour in more than eight years. He is enjoying recent retirement after serving  eight years as a city councilman for Morgantown and, most recently, as deputy mayor.


In his time at Hamilton, Spencer studied history and education, and also played varsity lacrosse and ice hockey. Spencer went on to earn dual masters degrees of theology from Princeton’s Divinity School and the Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. He also holds a Master of Public Administration from West Virginia University. Spencer will be joined later this week by his wife, Carol, for the weekend’s reunion festivities.      

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