'Worry is what kills more people'
I’m going to look through those crumbling, old newspaper issues wrapped in cardboard and leaning against my office wall. But first, I’m going to send a donation to the Spencer Wriggelsworth Tornado Relief Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.
Tuesday, reporter Starla Pointer chronicled bits and pieces of Spencer’s life, including the June tornado in McMinnville that reduced his auto repair business and residence to bits and pieces. It was sad, yet heartening, to read how he is facing down the devastation by heading back to work with determination.
“I work,” he said, “and I don’t let things bother me. Worry is what kills more people.”
Spencer Wriggelsworth is 86 years old, and he already has experienced his share of hard knocks. His wife was killed by a drunk driver 46 years ago and, more recently, a lady friend died. He had a heart attack in 1986, and since has suffered two stokes.
All that, and now he’s been victimized by an ultra-rare weather phenomenon — one of just two tornadoes ever recorded in McMinnville, the other being an EF-0 event that did no damage in 1993.
That wasn’t the case in 2013. The storage building where Spencer collected parts and worked on old cars was ripped apart. As we reported, “The swirling winds picked up a jagged piece of the shop and plunged it through the top of the motor home.” That was his on-site residence, now damaged beyond livability.
In our Tuesday photograph, Spencer’s face wasn’t etched with angst, but instead revealed a hint of his “What, me worry?” outlook. Here’s something we didn’t report, or know, at the time:
While cleaning up the tornado damage, Spencer found handfuls of extremely old newspaper pages in the roof of that building. Instead of simply tossing them on the heap, he came to the News-Register and asked if we might be interested in them.
Our front desk people didn’t know the gentleman who dropped off those carefully tied packages. But when Tuesday’s newspaper reached my desk with Spencer’s photo on the front page, it had a yellow sticky note saying, “This is the man who brought in those old papers.”
We have many century-old, flaky newspaper pages in our back warehouse, and these may or may not join that collection. Either way, I’ll join a few others in contributing to the Spencer Wriggelsworth fund at Wells Fargo.
Jeb Bladine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-687-1223.