ForeverMissed
Gregory Edward (Greg) Speltz died on November 7, 2020 at age 97.  At the end of a full and active life, he died peacefully in his sleep after a sudden decline in health.  

Greg was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Bernardine Koller and Petronilla Speltz, and his beloved wife, Mary (O’Connell) Speltz.  Greg and Mary were a match made in heaven; as Mary would say – Greg was the engine and she, the rudder.  Together on earth for more than 60 years, Mary died five years ago, and Greg continued to talk with her every night.

He is survived by his daughter Kate Speltz and son-in-law Rich Gamble, nieces and nephews of several generations who fondly remember “Uncle Greg”, and a large circle of friends.

Born in Carson Wisconsin on September 27, 1923 to Loretta (Foy) and George Speltz. He attended St. Nazianz seminary, and graduated from Marquette University where he studied English and history.  After teaching for some years he went back to school, completing a master’s in social work at St. Patrick College, Ottawa, Canada.  Greg worked for the Catholic Church until his retirement, first as a counselor, then as an administrator for Catholic Charities, and finally as an interviewer for the marriage tribunal.

As for “retirement”, Greg firmly believed that retirement was the time to give back to the community - one had earned resources and gained skills that were to be shared. Thus began 15 or so itinerant volunteer years for Greg and Mary in states across the south.  The latter years included starting numerous social justice committees, and founding volunteer and advocacy organizations. 

Greg and Mary moved to Seattle, Washington in their 80s as their health began to diminish to be closer to Kate and to really retire.  The ultimate extrovert, Greg got to know more people in his 80s than most who live in a place all their lives.  He relished moving to a place where he could participate in social justice activities without having to start-up and lead everything – and participate he did. For Greg – that was retirement.

Greg’s Catholic faith was extremely important to him and it was the driving force in his life.  Catholic Social Teaching and the necessary justice work within the church and for the common good of the world were at the core of everything he did.

We invite you to honor his life by connecting with one another, participating in protests, donating to justice organizations, communicating with your elected officials, continuing to learn and grow – whatever you can do for the common good and a more just society.

Greg Speltz – ¡Presente! 

Posted by Esther Brown on December 1, 2020
Thank you Greg for your many years of support of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. We are located in Alabama and are the only death row inmate founded organization in the country. You were a friend and even when you left Alabama you did not leave us. Thank you from all of us and especially Jeff for whom you were a very special friend. We will not forget you and will always be grateful for your friendship! R.I.P.
Posted by Paul Sampson on November 25, 2020
My visit to El Salvador with Greg, Mary & Maureen was one of the most important experiences of my life, and certainly the most important in the realm of social justice. Greg's example can lift you up and at the same time make you feel inadequate yourself. His light will shine on at St Patrick's.
Posted by Laura Burke on November 18, 2020
Kate, I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. He definitely sounds like he has had a life well lived. Happy that he is reunited with your Mom. Peace to you. Hugs.
Posted by Julie Codd on November 18, 2020
The 8 years I was a member of St. Patrick’s Parish, I experienced Greg and Mary Speltz and their wonderful warmth.
They were such a gift to the vibrant Faith Community.
They lived their faith, especially recognizing and supporting those on the edges of life.
Their daughter, Kate and her husband, Rich,
were such an inspiration the way they made it possible for Greg and Mary to live their life to the fullest!
Posted by Paula Jablonski on November 17, 2020
Kate, I’m so sorry your dad is gone. I remember him as being easy to talk to, kind, and always nicely dressed. Different from the grease and guts crew at my house! What a treat to have both of your folks living with and near you their last years! My mom sends her condolences and her love as well. She once had a conversation with your dad where he commented that he wished he had an outdoors job and comfortable clothes like my dad! 

My dad died October 31. I’m still in La Crosse, taking care of business things and spending time with mom. I drive by your old house almost every day on my way to see mom, and I think of you often, especially with this summer’s craziness in Seattle. Take care of yourself, be well, and hold those memories of your dad so so dear.

Love you!
Posted by Robert Crawford on November 16, 2020
Greg was a longtime activist in the Washington State Religious Campaign Against Torture (WSRCAT) I know I am not alone in remembering Greg as an always thoughtful contributor to our deliberations and stalwart participant in our actions. He was beloved to all of us.  I feel joy in thinking of Greg--a life well lived in dedication to a better world. We will miss him --and we honor his memory.
Posted by John Heagle on November 15, 2020
It was a great gift for me to know Mary and Greg Speltz for many decades, beginning back in La Crosse, WI in the mid-'60s. They (and their gifted daughter, Kate), have been a deep source of motivation for my own commitment to social justice. Through the decades, Greg and I shared ministry on the Justice and Peace Commission and in other forms of advocacy. I had the good fortune of ministering in Seattle, when Greg and Mary moved there, so it was a joy to reconnect with them again. Thank you both, Mary and Greg, good and faithful servants!
Posted by Adam Alessio on November 15, 2020
We first met Greg and Mary in ~2003 when we had just moved to Seattle. He was among the first to welcome us to the St. Pat's community and became a lasting role model for me as a husband, father, and citizen. While the world lost a bright light of hope and justice with Greg's passing, my heart is warmed by knowing the immense light that Greg started and seeds he planted throughout his life. Presente!
Posted by Barbara Anderson on November 15, 2020
Greg, thank you for your love of peace and justice to all! John and I enjoyed our time with you. You always made us feel welcome and special! Thank you for your loving daughter Kate who is so much like you!
Posted by Chris Covert-Bowlds on November 15, 2020
Greg was such a blessing and drum major for justice, I thank God for Greg! With his love, humor, creativity, compassion, loving-kindness, he truly lived St Francis of Assisi's motto: "Share the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary." In his 90's, he gathered voter signatures in the Norse home to help Initiative 1631 carbon tax to tackle the climate crisis! In our social justice efforts, he would often call us to the deeper inner spiritual conversion that is needed. Thanks so much for your lifetime of leadership, love, compassion, living out your/our call to love every being as ourselves. Greg Speltz, presente!
Posted by Meg Hansen on November 14, 2020
As a young girl our family would make the 2 1/2 hour trip to LaCrosse to celebrate Thanksgiving with Uncle Greg, Aunt Kack (our nickname for Mary), and cousin Kate. Without fail, there would be additional guests around the table, usually young men. I later learned these men were often one step away from homelessness or incarceration, and Greg had brought them home to Kack for some tender, loving care and the opportunity to be a part of a kindhearted family. For me, this was an early introduction to diversity, the importance of compassion for all, and the ideals of social justice Uncle Greg so passionately championed. 
   Throughout my life, our many conversations, especially in his later years, always proved to be fascinating. Our favorite topics included politics and world news, religion, and of course, social justice issues. Uncle Greg has been an inspiration, a voice of reason, an advisor, and a friend. I am in awe of his incredible list of achievements and accomplishments, and grateful to call him my uncle. He will be dearly missed!
Posted by Lauren Tozzi on November 14, 2020
I met Greg Speltz many, many, many years ago at a church here in Seattle. I wanted to know more about the School of Americas and what I could do to help and work in solidarity with our Central and South American sisters in brothers. I was so moved by what Greg said about the SOA...that I saved $$ and made my way to Fort Benning that year. It changed my life! And I have been involved in bearing witness for years. I also know that Greg was involved with Operation Night Watch. When I first moved to Seattle- I volunteered at the Crisis Clinic. I worked the phone lines on Friday nights from 9pm to 1am. Operation Night Watch was one of the many organizations helping the un-housed and did such incredible excellent humanitarian work. I just remember Greg's smile and his eyes that were full of compassion. I sing with his lovely daughter Kate in the Seattle Labor Chorus. Greg leaves quite a legacy. His light will always shine. And never will be diminished! PRESENTE!!! Rest in peace. Rise in power!   Much love to the Speltz family.
Posted by Peg Faulmann on November 14, 2020
In the short time that we knew Greg and Mary in Seattle, they made us feel as though we knew them all of their lives. Knowing them, we then knew what a good match Kate and Rich are, and what a solid family unit they made. The support in the peace and justice issues in that family unity made them extraordinary. Gratitude here for your life, Greg, and who you were (and are) for all of us as we build the Reign of God on earth.
Posted by Jean Buskin on November 14, 2020
I didn't realize how recently Greg and Mary came to Seattle. When my activist path led me to work with Greg, it seemed he was so central to every organization he was part of. Not only that, he served as a bridge between organizations, and between justice organizations and his church. I got to see Greg in action working with School of Americas Watch, and got to work alongside him in the Washington State Religious Campaign Against Torture. He was passionate about justice and preserving life and the dignity of all. He was exceptional in his ability to listen to other people, even with very different viewpoints. I had the pleasure sometimes of giving Greg a ride home from a meeting, and learning more about his opinions and experiences. I also felt it a privilege to see how Greg and Mary interacted so lovingly. I remember Greg as a thoughtful and warm person who made a difference in the world.
Posted by Diane Lee on November 13, 2020
I was always impressed by Kate's strong principal's, commitment to social justice and l gentleness.  Meeting Greg and Mary the 1st time helped me understand where Kate had got it from.  I felt a bound to Greg when we discovered we had geography in common. We both lived in St Croix Wisconsin. I have lots of family in Baldwin where he had lived. His daughter Kate and my son were both born in Eau Claire. It thrilled me when we were able to talk about St. Nazianz. Greg was delighted to hear that my 5th grade Catholic school class toured the park like campus, and the beautiful church.  I did not have the opportunity see Mary and Greg often, 5 minutes here and there before events. My favorite was at Seattle Labor Chorus. Any one could tell how much he enjoyed the music. The smile I will keep with me was the look on his face as listened and watched Kate.  Greg made the world a better place.
Posted by Maureen Little on November 11, 2020
Greg, thank you for being a guiding light in my life.

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Esther Brown on December 1, 2020
Thank you Greg for your many years of support of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. We are located in Alabama and are the only death row inmate founded organization in the country. You were a friend and even when you left Alabama you did not leave us. Thank you from all of us and especially Jeff for whom you were a very special friend. We will not forget you and will always be grateful for your friendship! R.I.P.
Posted by Paul Sampson on November 25, 2020
My visit to El Salvador with Greg, Mary & Maureen was one of the most important experiences of my life, and certainly the most important in the realm of social justice. Greg's example can lift you up and at the same time make you feel inadequate yourself. His light will shine on at St Patrick's.
Posted by Laura Burke on November 18, 2020
Kate, I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. He definitely sounds like he has had a life well lived. Happy that he is reunited with your Mom. Peace to you. Hugs.
his Life

Greg's Life - a few more details

Gregory Edward (Greg) Speltz was born in Carson Wisconsin to Loretta (Foy) and George Speltz.Greg was preceded in death by his parents and sisters Bernardine Koller and Petronilla Speltz, and his beloved wife, Mary (O’Connell) Speltz.He is survived by his daughter Kate Speltz and son-in-law Rich Gamble, and nieces and nephews of several generations who fondly remember “Uncle Greg”.

Words associated with Greg as people have begun to share memories: social justice, faith; real listener, catholic, deeply interested in others, humor, eternal learner, and did we mention social justice.

Greg’s Catholic faith was extremely important to him. It was the driving force in his life, and it was not a passive thing. Catholic Social Teaching and the necessary justice work within the church and for the common good of the world were at the core of everything he did. This quote, from Pope Paul VI was a favorite of his:“… it belongs to the laity, without waiting passively for orders and directives, to take the initiatives freely and to infuse a Christian spirit into the mentality, customs, laws and structures of the community in which they live.” 

While firm in his own convictions, he was open to other points of view and motivations – genuinely interested in others and what and how they thought. A veteran of many protests and vigils for peace and justice, he would often cross the street to dialogue with counter-protesters. On vacation or a Saturday walk, he would engage strangers in real conversation – much to the embarrassment of a teenaged daughter. People sensed his genuine interest, however, and it was amazing what they would share with Greg. In his later years, living at the Norse Home, he knew all the staff and residents by name, and had a personal project of writing biographies of residents – completing nearly 50.He enjoyed hearing the stories and crafting them into a portrait of the person.

His awareness of injustice started early and he had a strong memory of a classmate who would come to school in the snow wearing shoes that didn’t fit and a men’s suitcoat – being aware of the other’s poverty and knowing it was wrong.

He ultimately spent his life working for the Catholic Church and in social work, but that was after a series of jobs as a young man to help support his family – what his cousin referred to as “the damnedest jobs”. This included 17 hour shifts seven days a week at the bean cannery [where men worked double shifts, and where when several of them went to ask the boss for Sunday’s off they were told “ you wanted to work, ya sons a bitches – now work”]; working in the cranberry bogs [sleeping there in tents – just imagine the mosquitos in a bog in Wisconsin in June]; working on a crew replacing railroad ties, and – growing-up in a mill town, working in the papermill, including climbing down on rope ladders into vats that held acid, and in a box factory. And, of course, being from Wisconsin there was a stint working at a brewery

He attended seminary from eighth grade on, ultimately deciding not to enter the priesthood noting that he was more interested in prison ministry than in being a parish priest. From there he went to South Dakota where he taught for several years.  When he was ready to come back to Wisconsin to teach, and needed to know how to go about it, his sister Pat connected him with her bowling buddy, Mary Catherine O’Connell. They met on the 4th of July (which they always celebrated) and were married less than a year later. They were a match made in heaven; as Mary would say – Greg was the engine and she, the rudder. Together on earth for more than 60 years, Mary died five years ago, and Greg continued to talk with her every night.

Greg completed a masters in Social Work at St Patrick’s college in Ottawa, Canada, and then began his career working for the Catholic Church in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. A very early member of the National Association of Social Workers, he ended his membership when he felt the organization was more about professionalizing the workers than it was about protecting clients.

After several years working as a counselor he became the assistant administrator of Catholic Charities where he managed the offices, foster care and adoptions, and the Campaign for Human Development, amongst other things. For the last nine years of his work life he worked for the marriage tribunal, providing interviews and counseling for marriage annulments. During these years he also instigated and animated a number of social justice focused groups including in the diocese and at parishes, and independently with groups such as RESULTS and Network.

And then there was “retirement”. Greg firmly believed that retirement was the time to give back to the community- one had earned resources and gained skills that were to be shared. Thus began the itinerant volunteer years for Greg and Mary – running a hospice home in Wisconsin, a food kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a shelter for homeless men in Shreveport, Louisiana, low income housing for former sharecroppers in Mississippi, and finally all sorts of tasks at a homeless and low-income service center in Mobile, Alabama. While in Mobile Greg also animated a parish social justice committee, began working with School of the Americas Watch, started Second Wind Ministries – an opportunity for snowbirds to spend part of their year volunteering, and founded The Quest for Social Justice, an advocacy organization, which continued for ten years until it merged with another ecumenical organization. The address on the letterhead he created for many an organization was Greg and Mary’s apartment, and the office a word processor in the bedroom

Greg and Mary moved to Seattle, Washington in their 80s as their health began to diminish to be closer to Kate and to really retire. The ultimate extrovert, Greg got to know more people in his 80s than most people who live in a place all of their lives, and many who met him after he was here for a year assume he was a life-long resident. He relished moving to a place where he could participate in social justice activities without having to start-up and lead everything. To that end, he was an active member of the Interfaith Network of Concern for the People of Iraq, the Washington State Religious Campaign against Torture, and St Pats Social Justice Committee, to name a few; as well as serving on the board of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, and as a founding member of Wallingford Meaningful Movies, and School of the Americas Watch Puget Sound. He also actively participated in in work against the death penalty and war, as well as for peace and justice. For Greg – that was retirement.

A natural organizer and fundraiser, Greg always reached out to include others in the work for justice. He wasn’t asking you for a favor, he was inviting you to join him. He didn’t try to convert you but was so strong in his own convictions and willing to talk that many report increased awareness of and involvement in justice issues just by being around him.

As he thought about his life, and particularly in the last year Greg genuinely wondered if and hoped that he had done enough with his life; that he had made a positive impact for someone. Many took the opportunity of his recent 97th birthday to let him know how he had impacted them as a role model for justice, and that meant a lot to him.

If he wondered if he did enough, where does that leave us? We can honor his life by connecting with one another, and by working for the common good and a more just society

Greg Speltz – Presente!
Recent stories

Greg's funeral mass

Shared by Kate Speltz on November 17, 2020
Greg's funeral mass can be found on St. Pat's YouTube channel

Special petitions are at minute 27.35
The eulogy is at minute 54.00

Carry it on

Shared by Janet Stecher on November 15, 2020
I knew Greg and Mary initially through their daughter Kate, my colleague and friend in the Seattle Labor Chorus. We all joined forces through the SOAW send-off at St Pat's.  The whole family epitomizes "walking the talk" - choosing to thoroughly live their values. It has been an honor to occasionally share the path with them. Sending love to Kate and Rich in this painful transition. But we will carry it on!