It was fitting that Leon Spencer was named the 2017 Citizen of the Year by the Southern Chester Chamber of Commerce last week.
Spencer, 66, has made a positive impact on the community for the past 26 years. Whether it’s announcing Kennett Blue Demons football games , or directing the MLK CommUNITY Choir, Spencer is simply bigger than life in Kennett Square.
Spencer’s involvement in the community is impressive. He was Kennett Square mayor for 11 years, a member of Kennett Square council for four years, vice president of the Kennett Area Consolidated School District Board of Directors. president of the Chester County Intermediate Unit Board of Directors, board member of the Kendal-CrossIands Communities, secretary of the Board for the YMCA Of Greater Brandywine, board Member of Southern Chester County United Way, board member for Kennett Middle’s After The Bell program, and advisory Board member of the Historic East Linden Street project.
That’s just a partial list. Spencer, who was born and raised in Kennett, has touched many lives with his positive attitude, and has been a role model for local youth.
Spencer has been involved in organizations that help to shelter the homeless, feeding the hungry, caring for the health of children and providing orthopedic equipment for those who can not walk.
Spencer, a devout Christian, said in his speech that he reads the Bible daily. Seven years ago, when Kennett Square honored him after his long service as mayor, he pulled out a tiny golden cross from his pocket and told the audience he turns to it often when he gets stressed.
“When I get to thinking I’m all that, I reach in my pocket for change, and I’m reminded that’s I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, I’m not the brightest crayon in the box, I’m not the biggest fish in the sea. When times come that are challenging to me, this reminds me to chill out, be calm, stick with me and I’ll help you through it.”
Yet Spencer doesn’t preach his Christian faith; he lives it by example.
“He created every one of you,” Spencer told the crowd on Leon Spencer Day in 2010. And whether you like it or not, we have the same Father. We are of the same gene pool. Our genealogy cannot be disrupted. All of the ism’s that affect us -- terrorism, negativism racism -- have not place in our genealogy. They need to be disintegrated. Not buried. They aren’t worthy of landfill. They need to be disintegrated. And the way that happens is when we do it together.”
Back in 2009, when he was mayor, Spencer became embroiled in a controversy over why there were no basketball courts at the borough’s public park. Some residents claimed the courts were not installed there because it would attract young blacks. As tempers flared, and residents angrily pointed fingers at councilors, Spencer had a way of keeping calm.
“I’m as black as the people in this room,” he told a large crowd who had come to a council meeting demanding courts be installed. “ We need to be able to talk about how to solve this problem.”
That dialogue that Spencer encouraged later paved the way for the installation of basketball courts.
The Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award recognizes individuals who unselfishly contribute to the community’s quality of life and display exemplary volunteer efforts demonstrating vision, leadership, and citizenship that positively impact the Southern Chester County community.
We can think of no one more deserving of this prestigious award than Leon Spencer. Kennett Square is blessed to have him.