Friday, March 03, 2017

Remembering Spencer Nicodemus

Night was rapidly approaching and the temperature had already dipped to 45 degrees as two Joplin High School juniors were on the banks of Shoal Creek preparing to catch some fish, when an apparently homeless man, suddenly stood before them.

"It startled us," Kellar Stanley recalled. "He had a really torn, ripped shirt and he asked us for some change so he could buy a jacket to get through the night."

Kellar reached into his wallet and gave the man a $10 bill, but his fishing companion, Spencer Nicodemus, took a different approach.

"Nico gave him the sweater off his back...and also some money."

That memory stood out for Kellar as he remembered his good friend, just hours after an accident at Irving Elementary School took his life Thursday at age 18. Spencer was at Irving, where his mother, Kathy Nicodemus, teaches, volunteering with special needs children.

It wasn't something the JHS senior was doing to build his resume as he prepared for higher education.

That was the way Spencer Nicodemus lived his life.

"He was hands down, one of the nicest, most selfless men I've ever met," Kellar said. "I'm going to miss him a lot."

Spencer's selfless nature and his willingness to lend a helping hand to anyone in need are not traits that occur in a young man by accident. His best role models could be found in his home.

Former Joplin gifted teacher Diane McInturff never had Spencer in class, but she grew to know and appreciate him and his family as she taught his sister Samantha.

"We did many activities, trips, etc. and he always accompanied us," she remembered. "The Nicodemus family is the family we all aspire to be. Loving, grounded, positive, beautiful...all of that and more.The bond between Sam and Spencer was like no sibling bond I'd seen before or since."

The Nicodemus family infused a welcoming, positive outlook in Spencer that he brought with him to Joplin High School. While Spencer had close friends, he found ways to draw others into the sunshine that always surrounded him.

In a Facebook post, JHS graduate Addie Bland remembered one such instance.

"He randomly called us twins because we had the same birthday," Addie said. Three years later, that small memory brought a smile through her sadness after she heard about Spencer's death.

"I didn't really know him as a close friend, but we would always say, 'Happy birthday, twin!' to one another

"I know he was a very strong believer in God and he led a life showing Christ in everything he did. I'll be thinking of (Nico) every year on our birthday."

It wasn't just the words that Spencer spoke, but his willingness to listen that endeared him to others.

 "I have had really difficult times in high school and he was the first person I could talk to and he would give the best advice in the world," JHS student Katie Brown said.

"He was the first person that I told when my Aunt Cathy died," JHS student Katie Brown said,  "and the first thing he told me was that heaven was a little bit brighter now because of her."

And now, far too soon, heaven will be brighter still with the addition of Spencer Nicodemus.


Memaw said...

Thank you for this moving tribute. No words can ease the sorrow his family is enduring, but knowing others will carry his memory, that his light still shines, will help.

Royce said...

The Nicodemus family is truly an inspirational family. Spencer's legacy will be the kindness and love of Christ he left with each person he met. This world is a better place because he was in it.

Jessica said...

This is one of the most beautiful tributes I've ever read.

Jo Smith said...

If a person needs to see God and be lifted up, we all should spend some time here getting to know Spencer. So happy to say - I do know Spencer and his family. You are an amazing young man; Spencer Nicodemus!!!