The Hon. Willard Francis Spicer, 81, who served as Summit County probate judge for 31 years, died peacefully at his home August 27, after a life well-lived.
A descendant of Summit County's first settlers, Judge Spicer's ancestors arrived in the Western Reserve from CT in the early 19th Century, and the Spicer name can be found scattered across Akron, notably Spicer Street and Spicer Hall at the University of Akron. Bill grew up during Akron's boom years with his beloved parents and four older brothers. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Akron, where he joined ROTC before serving as an Army officer in Vietnam.
A lifelong moderate Republican, Bill served as an assistant U.S attorney, Akron law director and Akron municipal court judge before being appointed judge of Summit County Probate Court in 1980. As probate judge, he was a progressive, distinguished and respected jurist, who took on the toughest issues of the day, most notably the right to die with dignity. He spearheaded an overhaul of Ohio's guardianship laws. During his first years as probate judge, the Beacon Journal wrote that no one "could fail to respect his sense of responsibility and admire his basic humanity."
Bill was a student of history and traveled to over 60 countries. As judge, he was a handsome and sartorial figure around the courthouse. He collected furniture and art on his weekend treasure hunts to Akron tag sales and spent countless hours studying and writing about his Spicer ancestors. In retirement, he lived for the Akron Zips football and basketball teams.
Bill was a quiet, loyal, dignified, and thinking man. His death is a loss to his family and the community he loved and served. He is survived by his partner and spouse of over 25 years, Greg Peacock, nieces, nephews, and cousins, including the Hon. Mary Spicer, as well as his longtime caregiver and best friend, Joshua Singer.
An interment at Western Star Cemetery in Norton, the resting place of his Spicer ancestors, will be held later. Donations in the Judge's name may be made to the U of Akron Foundation, Buchtel Hall, Rm 219, Akron, OH 44325-4725.