- December 11, 2019
Principal. Pizza delivery man. Rotarian. Father. Lifelong companion.
William “Bill” C. Spoone was a man of many hats. And throughout his life, he accomplished much.
Spoone, 89 of Orlando, died Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022.
His legacy will live on in every person whose heart he touched in the community.
Spoon came from humble beginnings. He was born in 1932, in Morristown, Tennessee, and didn’t have running water until he was 11 years old.
Morristown is where he met his lifelong partner of 66 years and love of his life, Pat.
Bill and Pat were high school sweethearts at Morristown High School, where Bill was the captain of the football team and basketball team his senior year.
In 1952, he earned a football scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where he then became a member of the UT Letterman's Club. In 1956, he graduated from UT with a degree in education.
“The way that he was able to overcome challenges when he was younger, like being pushed back in school, to end up being one of the best known educators in Orange County and to change so many people’s lives is just incredible,” Dan Spoone, Bill’s son, said.
Spoone began his teaching and football coaching career at Etowah, Tennessee, and then moved his family in 1958, to Orlando, where he began coaching at Edgewater High School.
He later served as a teacher and football coach at Oviedo High School, Deland High School and Evans High School.
After earning a master's degree in education at Rollins College, he became the principal in 1971 at Howard Junior High for three years.
Bill Chambers, Ocoee resident, said Spoone was the first principal with whom he worked in Orange County. Chambers first met Spoone in 1973 when the school had a coaching vacancy. Chambers moved from Ohio to Orlando within two weeks of meeting Spoone.
“He always had an open-door policy that went much more than just Monday through Friday,” Chambers said. “You could go in and talk to him about anything. If you made a mistake, you knew you were in trouble, but he would never hold a grudge; he was always so forgiving and just a special man.”
Chambers said although Spoone had a kind heart, he was also a disciplinarian.
“He was honest and you knew 100% of the time where you stood with him, and I respected that,” Chambers said. “He always stood up for his teachers and his students, even when they did wrong. He was always fair and heard everyone’s sides.”
Spoone next moved to Oak Ridge High School for 12 years. Oak Ridge named the gymnasium the William C. Spoone Gymnasium in honor of Bill.
The former principal is a member of the Oak Ridge High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Morristown High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In 1987, Spoone became the first principal of Dr. Phillips High School, where he served for six years. The school named its football stadium, which seats 6,600 people, after him.
“Dad (Bill) loved sports, but he loved everything,” Dan said. “He encouraged everyone no matter their passions. He was a student’s principal.”
Spoone believed in weekly pep rallies, student support at every event and raised school spirit to a remarkable level.
“He just had his hip replaced so he had a cane, but he called it a spirit stick and he had pompons off of it, blue and white tape, and all that kind of stuff,” Dan said, laughing. “One time, he even promised the student body he would hold a pep rally and do a somersault across the stage if the gymnastics team placed well in a competition. He put down his spirit stick, and the students helped him roll over a couple of times on stage.”
During Spoone’s time at DP, Dan opened a pizza place in Ocoee. He said his dad would work as a delivery driver for him on Sundays.
“He was a principal at DPHS knocking on doors delivering pizza to his students and their families,” Dan said. “He would always be there for you whenever you needed him. It didn’t matter when or where.”
After DPHS, Bill then continued his passion for education through serving as a member of the Orange County School Board for eight years.
Spoone was also a 30-year member of the Dr. Phillips Rotary Club, a group that provided him with 30 years of friendships.
Current club President Terry Taggart, said Spoone’s Tennessee background led the club to some interesting activities, such as “Tennessee Math.” Taggart said Bill had wonderful stories that generally started with, “Hey Gang,” and even introduced them to “Hip Hip Hooray.”
“It took some getting used to, but it is now a key tradition in our club,” Taggart said. “Any service project or club endeavor had Bill’s influence.”
Spoone received the Paul Harris Fellow three times and served as the president of the club for a year.
Taggart said Spoone was a model Rotarian.
“It was a life of giving, positivity and making everyone feel special,” Taggart said. “Rotary is guided by the ‘Four Way,’ Test which speaks to honesty and character. He fully exemplified this.”
Spoone is survived by his wife, Pat; son, Dan, and his wife, Leslie; daughter, Cathy, and her husband, Gregg Buckingham; two grandsons, Ben Buckingham and Sam Spoone; and his exchange student daughter from Norway, Helga Brun. He is preceded in death by his two older brothers, Bob and Jack.
In lieu of flowers, the Spoone family invites locals to join them in honoring Bill's lifetime commitment to education by helping them create the Bill and Pat Spoone Scholarship at Valencia College. Donations can be made online at valencia.org/donate/ or by sending a check made payable to Valencia College Foundation to Valencia College Foundation, PO Box 3028, MC: DO-41, Orlando, FL 32802. Please indicate your donation is in memory of Bill Spoone.