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George A. Spero, activist in St. Petersburg

George Alfred Spero, 91, an extremely active and popular retiree, who was the driving strength behind the South Pinellas Senior Citizens Club, died Monday (Oct. 12, 1992) at Humana Hospital-St. Petersburg.

"He was just the most vital and involved person, a man of enormous energy and compassion," said Gerald Buchert, director of the St. Petersburg Office on Aging. "He was a charter member of the St. Petersburg Senior Hall of Fame."

A native of Rochester, Pa., Mr. Spero came here in November 1960 from Cleveland. Recently, he had said he came to Florida to die.

"The doctor told me if I don't get out of Ohio, I won't make it," he said. At 60, he was so crippled with arthritis he couldn't stand up.

Mr. Spero said he and his wife, Ruth, made friends in St. Petersburg. He went to Spa Beach with his friends and they met monthly for conversation and friendship. "

"Wouldn't it be a good thing to join a club for people our age?' we thought one day," Mr. Spero remembered. So in December 1962, they started the South Pinellas Senior Citizens Club.

A political activist, he was once known as "Mr. Transit." After selling his car in the 1960s, Mr. Spero started to ride the buses, checking out the routes and campaigning for better rates for seniors. For his efforts, he was awarded a lifetime pass.

When asked his secret for longevity, Mr. Spero said he enjoyed life by feeling useful in the community. "You've got your life, enjoy it," he said.

He was awarded the key to the city of St. Petersburg five times. His activities included: mem-ber of Tampa Bay Regional Planning Commission, National Council of Senior Citizens, chairman of the South Pinellas Senior Citizens Club's Transit Committee and volunteer at Sunshine Center.

"He was the most exciting and dynamic 91-year-old man that I've known in my life," said Dick Holmes, president of the South Pinellas Senior Citizens Club.

"A real inspiration to me, he was the only reason I joined the club, and he contributed much on the behalf of elders and others," Holmes said.

Before moving to Florida, he retired from the hardware business in Cleveland, where he was a transit director, chairman of a traffic safety committee that lobbied for laws against drunken driving, and a member of the Ohio National Guard.

Survivors include his wife of 71 years, Ruth; two daughters, MaeBelle "Billy" Crane, St. Petersburg, and Shirley Palmenteri Lexington, Ky.; a son, Wilbur, Zephyrhills; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be in the Sunshine Center Auditorium on Thursday at 3 p.m. The family requests that contributions should be made to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

_ Some of the information in this obituary came from a story by Betty Jean Miller in the St. Petersburg Times.

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