As all who know our family are aware, a good story always starts like this:
NO JOKE, THERE I WAS… on July 2, 2022, when Daddy, Dr. George William “Chuck” Speck, died of cancer. In fact, the whole family was there, wife, kids and grandkids, supporting him in his last moments.
Dr. Speck was born May 5, 1946, in San Angelo, Texas. Arthur Henderson “Pete” Speck and Evelyn Eugenia “Eva Jean” Speck raised Dr. Speck as a rancher. He attended school in Menard, Texas, and graduated in 1964. Since he lived the furthest from town, he drove the school bus through rain, sleet, snow, and uphill both ways, picking up other students at designated spots in the pastures along the way. He also earned his private pilot license under the instruction of cousin Lowell Longenette.
Many years ago, at a funeral in San Angelo, Chuck and his cousin, Lowell, found themselves in a LOT of trouble for laughing hysterically when “an old man walked into the church and yelled ‘Let me up front so I can hear!”. I dare say that a few renditions of this are likely to be heard over the next few days.
When asked why he became a doctor, he’d say “I didn’t want to dig post holes, spray mesquite, and drench sheep forever.” Working sheep on horseback, he would look at a plane flying overhead and think, “there has to be a better place.” Ranching through the droughts of the 50’s, fighting screw worms, and dipping cattle are challenges only recorded in history now.
He graduated from University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, with a BA in Biology in 1968. He received his Medical Degree at University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Galveston, TX, 1972. He completed residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, 1976. His adventures in parenthood began with the birth of his daughter (the best child and author of this, of course) in 1974.
He opted to serve his country after residency, reasoning, “If I join the Air Force, I’ll be able to see the world.” The United States determined that he would best serve as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist at Dyess Air Force Base, a two-hour drive from where he grew up.
It was here that he made the newspapers with the delivery of his twin sons, William and Charles. Prenatal ultrasound wasn’t common technology in the 1970s when Iris (Watson) Speck went into preterm labor at 31 weeks, over 2 months early! Once William was born, Charles was first discovered, and he was breech! Dr. Speck delivered Charles by breech extraction, despite Charles’ unwillingness to cooperate. He resuscitated both children and then even continued to raise them afterwards! In periodic adulthood discussions with Daddy, the three physician children (Lena, Michael and John) determined that, “if they hadn’t been born prematurely, they’d be physicians, too, instead of engineers.”
Dr. (Major) Speck was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1978. The family moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, where he practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 10 years. Michael and John were born into the family there. The children helped Daddy maintain his “doctor skills” with frequent lacerations and even a gunshot wound (pellet gun), all timed perfectly to occur after he had been awake delivering babies the previous night. We also seemed to help him find use for his Delta Tau Delta fraternity paddle, which often preceded the suturing of the injured… He would often proudly say “my kids could break an &#$*% anvil!”
After multiple summer vacations on South Padre Island, the family moved to Harlingen, Texas. Dr. Speck was the OB/GYN physician and Federal Aviation Administration “flight physical” doctor to many until he retired. Many male pilots call him their gynecologist. He enjoyed collecting “old cars” and flying planes. An active member of the Harlingen CISD community, he participated in frequent parent-teacher conferences over the years, until John’s graduation from Harlingen South High School in 2001. His wit and humor were with him to the end.
He is survived by his wife, Janice Hight Speck; children, Lena Speck Hopkins (Chris), William Speck (Angie), Charles Speck (Olfa), Michael Speck (Jana K.) and John Speck (Ashley); grandchildren Evelyn, Troy, Robbie, Georgie, Adam, Mimi, Johnny, Charlie, Eleanor and Shelby who will continue to provide hours of noise and joy in his honor. Dr. Speck is also survived by his brothers, Arthur and James.
Dr. Speck is preceded in death by his first wife, Iris Watson Speck (1/17/2020).
The Speck family will receive relatives and friends Thursday, July 7, 2022 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Buck Ashcraft San Benito Funeral Home. A funeral service will take place Friday, July 8, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. in Chapel A of the funeral home. Bring a cut copy of this writing, you can ask loudly to sit up front where you can hear.
Services for Dr. Dr. George William “Chuck” Speck will conclude at the close of the funeral service.
In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choice in Dr. Speck’s honor are welcomed.
Click the link below to view a livestream of the funeral service.
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