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William Jon Spangler, age 87, of Ford City, PA, passed away peacefully on January 29, 2024, just two hours before Marion, his loving wife of 67 years. Jon was born August 30, 1936, to Margaret Lillian “Dillie” (Tomlinson) Spangler and William Ralph “Bill” Spangler and grew up with his sister Gaye and beloved younger brother and partner in crime, Joe. After graduating from Kittanning High School in 1954, he married Marion Bryant Slautterback, the love of his life, on Dec. 1, 1956, describing her as “the most beautiful girl in Kittanning High School.” They went on to have five children in ten years. He was proud of each of his kids for what made them unique, making them feel like “no ordinary torpedo” as only he could.
Quick with a nickname or one of his endless slew of one-liners, the hilarity only increased when his brother was in proximity. You knew it was a particularly good day if he was sing-humming some silly song of his own making or announcing, “It’s a beautiful day in Burbank!” The consummate gentleman, he treated the women in his life with love and respect. He was generous with his time and a compassionate, empathetic listener during life’s hardest moments. He believed in hard work, neatness, honesty, and gratitude, always leading quietly by example.
Jon possessed a natural confidence that took him far, first through his sports and later through his own business. Raised on the schoolgrounds of Kittanning’s Fourth Ward and Applewold, Jon spent nearly every daylight hour playing baseball, football, and basketball with friends, where baseball became his dominant sport.
As a left-handed pitcher for Kittanning High, he pitched a record-breaking first 15 innings of a 17-inning standoff against the first-place team in 1954 and, in the same game, hammered a fastball high over the right field wall, measuring 410 feet. He later excelled in the Armstrong County Baseball League, emerging as the pitching leader on his team and leaving his name in the record books again while pitching in a post-season tournament against some of Eastern OH and Western PA’s best amateur teams. He threw 22 strikeouts against the host team, setting an all-time record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
After being recruited by several major league teams, Jon signed a contract in 1955 with the newly crowned World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers who had just won their first and only World Series. Jon often reminisced about Dodgers Spring Training where, in March 1956, he had the unique opportunity to mingle with some of the Dodgers’ famous personnel. Most memorable was the evening he and a friend got to shake hands and talk with Jackie Robinson as he “held court.” Unfortunately, just three weeks later, a previous injury surfaced that ended his major league aspirations.
After returning home, Jon was hired by the Kittanning Telephone Company, starting on the construction crew and eventually became manager of the Company’s Test Center which controlled their outside personnel’s daily activities. In 1967, when Hugo C. Montebell announced plans to open a new ice arena in Kittanning that included plans for a youth hockey program, Jon was excited by the opportunity. When the order came in to install the telephone system at the new Belmont Arena, Jon accompanied his installers on the job and first met Hugo. They immediately hit it off and, on their second meeting, Jon offered to start the hockey program if Hugo would give him a couple of weeks to get started. Hugo answered, “Okay, tell me what you need, and I’ll get it for you.” Five years after introducing the sport to our area, Jon became the coach of the first high school team, nicknaming them the “Arrows.” They would officially become The Armstrong Arrows, a name that still resonates through the local hockey program.
In 1978, Jon accepted a position with AT&T in Atlanta, GA. After 22 years of service in Kittanning, he moved his whole family to the bustling city. Several months after starting with AT&T, he launched a business from scratch, forming a company that contracted with telephone companies and other publishers to deliver their telephone directories. It soon grew beyond Georgia and eventually served all but five of the fifty states. After 25 years, he retired in 2003.
In his later years, as illness took its toll, Jon continued to wake each day grateful to see another sunrise. He was a truly selfless man of many talents and attributes, with perhaps the greatest of these being his unfailing goodness. He will be deeply missed by those who love him.
Jon is survived by four of his five children: Joe (Kim) Spangler of Ford City, Jane Spangler of Pittsburgh, Jerry (Cindy) Spangler of Kittanning, and Jennifer (Greg) Toy of Kittanning. His grandchildren include Jon M. (Marissa) Spangler and Joshua Spangler, Zachary Spangler, Jennifer (Tim) Goldinger and Bryan Spangler, Ryan Toy, Cody Toy, Carly Toy, and Jesse Toy, as well as three great grandchildren: Jaiden Spangler, Emma Goldinger and Noah Goldinger. Jon was preceded in death by his parents, sister Gaynelle “Gaye” Hughes, brother Joseph Lee Spangler, and eldest son Jack Michael Spangler.
Friends will be received at the Snyder-Crissman Funeral Home in Kittanning on Friday February 2, 2024 from 2:00 to 4:00 and 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. A funeral service will be held on Saturday February 3, 2024 at 1:00 P.M. in the funeral home with Pastor Larry Edwards officiating. Interment is in the Chartiers Cemetery in Carnegie.