Paul Herschel Speer left this life to be with his Lord and Savior peacefully but suddenly, February 11, 2015. Herschel’s two main loves of this life were his God and church and his loving family. Both will miss him dearly. He was born in Walton County on December 14, 1931 to Alex and Mattie Lou (Parham) Speer. Raised as an only child, in a rural setting his parents instilled in him a true sense of worth, not only in himself but also for the love of others, and the value of lesser possessions.
Herschel was a solid University of Georgia Bulldog fan. He started school at UGA at the age of 16 and graduated at 20, with a Masters degree in both mathematics and statistics. One story told of him, is he was known to slip out of choir practice early to go home and watch the girls’ basketball team on television. For many years, a season ticket holder for football, he followed the Bulldogs throughout the Southeastern Conference and to many bowl games, traveling with family and friends. He was as devoted to his profession as to his school.
Herschel retired from the State of Georgia, Division of Public Health, as Budget Director, after 34 years of service. Commuting to Atlanta from the Monroe area and Bostwick all those years, sharing rides and taking others to Atlanta for work. In Herschel’s adult life he always had “his girls”. He married later in life into a ready-made family.
On December 17, 1967 he married Sara Ann (Nunn) Palmer. She came with two children (Sally and Susan) from a previous marriage after her husband was killed in a plane crash. He also accepted and welcomed into the home Sara Ann’s mother, who lived with them until her death 22 years later.
Eleven months into the marriage, Herschel was blessed with a daughter of his own, Shelly. She later gave him two granddaughters, Mary Trent and Sara Anna; which always held a special space in his heart.
After retirement he did not slow down. He stayed busy and had many interests. Herschel served as Mayor of Bostwick for eight years, was a substitute schoolteacher in the Walton County School System, served on the board of Fireman’s Fund Insurance, was active in the Bostwick Masonic Lodge for almost 50 years always helping with the Bostwick Fourth of July Bar-B-Q.
For over 20 years, he cherished taking the entire family to St. Simons Island for vacation.
He also enjoyed occasionally taking trips to Cherokee, NC.
Herschel may best be remembered as the man behind the scenes at his beloved church, Bostwick United Methodist. It was a rare day he could not be found working or doing something for the church. Herschel professed his faith and joined this church at the age of eight, serving it daily for 75 years. He was the longest serving member, and was working in the yard of the church when he was called home.
He will be remembered as a good and faithful servant.
Herschel was 83 years of age at his death. His parents and an infant sister preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife Sara Ann (Nunn) Palmer Speer, daughter Shelly Luann Speer Chandler (husband Bob), two step-daughters Sally Palmer Johnson (husband Ken), and Susan Palmer (Johnny Lupo), and two grand-daughters Mary Trent and Sara Anna Chandler, all of Bostwick, a large extended family and many friends.
Services were held Friday, February 13, at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary of Bostwick United Methodist Church with Rev. Kathy McFarland officiating and Rev. Doug Jordan delivering “A Message of Hope” with interment held at Braswell Church Cemetery. The family received friends in the church fellowship hall following the services. Contributions in remembrance of Herschel can be made to the Bostwick United Methodist Church, PO Box 257, Bostwick, GA 30623. A. E. Carter Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.