Buddy Brown Spivey, longtime active supporter and member of the Blinded Veterans Association, passed away January 9, 2014 in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
His obituary was published in the January 13 edition of the Arkansas Online newspaper.
In 1973, Field Service Representative for the Midwestern Region Buddy Spivey, second from left; National Field Service Director Dr. Dennis R. Wyant, far left; Western Representative Robert Utley; and Northeastern Representative Don Garner. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dennis Wyant, Gainesville, Florida.
Born December 31, 1941 in Washington D.C., Buddy was considered a true American hero by all who knew him, including a wide circle of friends within the national BVA organization, the regional groups to which he belonged, and the countless blinded veterans he counseled and assisted as a BVA Field Service Representative during 1973-83. He became the first blinded veteran to serve as an Assistant State Director for Veterans Employment in Arkansas. For his distinguished professional accomplishments he was awarded BVA’s highest honor, the Melvin J. Maas Award for Professional Achievement, in 1989.
When asked how he was doing, Buddy always responded with an emphatic “OUT-STANDING!” His life story and character were remarkable. As a member of the United States Marine Corps, he was severely injured by an explosion in Vietnam on December 7, 1967. Most of his unit originally believed he had died that day.
He spent 18 months in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Although he was totally blind, lost his right leg, and suffered brain damage, he never lost his spirit and lived a full and fun-filled life after his injury.
Buddy earned two Purple Hearts and retired from the Marines at the rank of Captain.
After years of physical and blind rehabilitation, he returned to his beloved Alma Mater, the University of Arkansas, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling (1971) and an Education Specialist Degree (1972).
Buddy worked a full career until he retired in 2007 as a VIST Coordinator at the Little Rock VA Medical Center. He served as a BVA Field Service Representative for ten years, traveling alone across 14 states counseling and helping other blinded veterans. He later worked as a counseling psychologist and social worker at the VA Hospital in Little Rock. Buddy rarely missed a day of work.
He was also an active member of the Disabled American Veterans Association.
Buddy was the DAV “Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year” in 1975. The award was presented to him by President Gerald R. Ford in the Oval Office and at the DAV National Convention in Hawaii. He received the DAV Department of Arkansas Achievement Award the same year.
In 1976, he received the Tau Kappa Epsilon National Achievement Award. He received the “No Greater Love Award” for Vietnam Veterans presented by Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt in 1977. He was an Outstanding Young Men of America honoree in 1981. He also served as a board member for the State of Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind from 1975 to 2006.
Buddy was a gifted artist and musician. He was one of the all-time great Razorback fans. He loved telling people that he played in two Cotton Bowls and two Sugar Bowls during his time at the University of Arkansas. Most times (but not always) he would later admit that he actually played as a member of the Razorback Marching Band, which he affectionately referred to as, the “Stumbling 100.” He was a talented saxophone player.
Buddy loved being a part of something bigger than himself, whether it was the marching band, the Marine Corps, the Disabled American Veterans Association, the Blinded Veterans Association or even the Edsel Owner’s Club. He was also a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, the American Legion, the First Marine Division, the Third Marine Division, the Marine Corps League, the Retired Officers Association, the National Order of Trench Rats, the Arkansas BVA Razorbacks Regional Group, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock.
Buddy’s obituary recounts that as a person he was truly larger than life. He was the biggest personality in the room, regardless of his company. People were drawn to him–not only because of his personal story, but because of the way he told stories, and because of the way he loved and listened to others. He always wanted to know about other people and to hear their stories. He remembered every detail from them.
He knew “everything (pronounced by him EV-ry-thing) about tomato pie!!” from his days in Philadelphia, where his father, Joseph Spivey, worked as an FBI agent. Buddy danced on American Bandstand as a teenager. He loved cars and knew all about them. He collected hundreds of model cars. He lived in big cities like Washington D.C., Cleveland, and Philadelphia growing up, but he spent considerable time visiting in Arkansas, where his grandparents lived, and then made the Razorback state his permanent home.
Buddy attended the University of Arkansas and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Art prior to his military service. His artistic talents were broad. He painted remarkable portraits, landscapes, and abstracts. He also excelled at technical and commercial drawings. He loved designing cars. After graduation, instead of designing cars, he volunteered for the United States Marine Corps. As much as anything else, Buddy was a Marine.
Buddy was an immaculate dresser. He wore his suit and tie to work long after the rest of the world had moved to business casual. He was at times a flashy dresser. He loved bright colors with lots of flare. He enjoyed standing out from the crowd–as if he needed any help doing so.
He was a Methodist and devout Christian. He prayed for others all day, every day. He always told his friends and family how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. Buddy had unlimited compassion for others but never felt sorry for himself.
Buddy is survived by his wife, Jeanne Spivey; his son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Elizabeth Spivey of Little Rock; his step-daughter, who Buddy thought of as a daughter, and son-in-law, respectively Michelle and Andrew Nichols of Oceanside, California; two grandchildren, Audrey and Adeline Spivey of Little Rock; his uncle, Calvin Spivey of Rogers, Arkansas; his aunt, Adeline Spivey of Rogers; and numerous cousins, all of whom Buddy loved dearly.
Funeral services for Buddy Spivey were scheduled for January 17, 2014, at the First United Methodist Church in North Little Rock at 11:00 a.m. Visitation was to be held at Griffin Leggett – Rest Hills in Sherwood Thursday, January16, 2014 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. He will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made in Buddy’s honor to the Blinded Veterans Association, 477 H Street, Northwest Washington, DC 20001-2694 (www.bva.org); or the Marine Corps League Foundation at P.O. Box 3070, Merrifield, Virginia 22116-3070 (www.mclfoundation.org). See obituary and tributes at http://glhr.tributes.com/our_obituaries/Buddy-Spivey-97751021.