'I could not have asked for a better life or a better wife'
At 6 a.m. Tuesday morning — fewer than two days after his wife Rosalind died in his arms — Spencer Dye sat down and typed their love story.
He sent it to a small group of family and friends. His daughter, Pamela, copied and pasted the message for her friends to read on Facebook. His story was shared again and again. It reached out of their circle, and soon strangers started reading it.
“It’s hard to believe,” Spencer said of the story sharing. “All it said was that I love that woman and that woman loves me.”
Ask him to retell that story, and he does more than that. He relives it.
‘I’m going to marry that little girl’
Spencer sits in his living room with his daughter, Roz’s sister, Byrdene Cooke Franklin, and their niece, Nikki Cooke. Chip, the Dye’s little dog, leaps off the sofa and runs under the coffee table, where there sits a piece of the Crazy Horse monument his wife picked up during a recent cross-country trip, along with a printed copy of Spencer’s message.
When Spencer talks about the first time he saw Roz, his eyes brighten and he leans forward. He was 7 years old and riding in back seat of his parents’ car.
He points and says, “You got to look. I’m going to marry that little girl.”
As he speaks, he taps his niece on the sofa beside him as if she is his sister, Sonja, as if they are driving back from church along Leonard Avenue, as if it is 1960 and he is falling in love all over again.
Spencer and Roz have been in love for 46 years.
Spencer’s boyhood attempts to catch her attention — that included climbing a water tower and hanging upside down by his feet — finally paid off when they were 14. He asked her out, and she said “OK” and walked away. In the days that followed, she called every Dye in the phone book until she found him, Pam recounts from her mother’s stories.
Building a life
They were married four years later, when Spencer was still in high school. Roz, having graduated, passed up college to work in High Point.
Spencer spent time in the U.S. Air Force and then took a job at Duke Power Co. He said his long hours were worth it.
“I lived to come home and see my wife smile. That was all I ever needed.”
They were told they couldn’t have children, so their daughter was as much of a surprise as a blessing, Spencer said.
When Pam went to school, Roz took a job as a substitute so she could have the same schedule. Over the years, she also worked as a librarian’s assistant and teacher’s assistant for Northwood and Oak View elementary schools.
In April 1999 - when Pam was a senior in high school - Roz was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. The family worried she might not see graduation.
“I got down on my knees one night and I talked to God just the way I’m talking to you now,” Spencer said.
“And I said, ‘God, you have been too good to me because you gave me such a wonderful woman. I just ask that she live long enough that I can show her how much I love her.’”
Roz would continue to work until August 2012. The day she retired, Spencer surprised her with plans for a cross-country trip.
The trip of a lifetime
Roz and Spencer spent several months planning and left on July 1.
During the Dyes’ 28-day trip, they drove 8,427 miles and took more than 5,000 photos.
Spencer said the best part was seeing his wife’s reaction to natural wonders. He described stepping out over the skywalk and looking down into the Grand Canyon.
“The whole time we were out there, I was watching her, that smile on her face.”
They almost entirely circled the country. Among other things, they made stops at historically significant places like Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Alabama, where Martin Luther King Jr. began his pastorship. They drove over the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. They explored Sequoia, Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks.
Not the end
On the way back, they talked about how surreal the entire trip had been.
The night they returned, husband and daughter said, Roz was happy. Souvenirs were strewn all around the living room. She was excited, figuring out who was getting what.
As he sat in the living room the next morning, however, Spencer heard a cough that didn’t sound right. He rushed to their bedroom, where she was barely conscious. He called 911, did CPR and held her in his arms, whispering his love for her.
“She left here the happiest and the most loved woman in the world,” he said.
Her death is not the end, he says, looking up. He recalls the last sentence of the message to his friends:
“Rest assured that the story has not ended,” he wrote, “because that little girl waits for me.”
Lblake@hpe.com | 888-3515
Memorial service will be 10:30 a.m. today at Williams Memorial CME Church, 3400 Triangle Lake Road. Family visitation will be at the church 10-10:30 a.m.. Online condolences may be made at www.johnsonandsonsinc.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the American Heart Association.
Here's Spencer Dye's story in his own words:
Fifty three years ago, a 7 year old boy was in the backseat of his
parents car peering out the window as his family was returning home
after attending church. He spied a little girl in her front yard and
fell instantly in LOVE. He told his mother that one day he would marry
that little girl. His mother smiled and told him that he was too young
to know anything about LOVE or marriage.
But that little boy was absolutely sure. Arriving home, he broke the
cardinal rule and wrote in the back of the Family Bible that he would
marry that little girl.
He had no idea who she was, didn't know anything about her. Yet, he
never doubted his belief.
When it was discovered that he had written in the Family Bible, his
mother scolded him but she let his little message remain.
Seven years later, Feb 16, 1967 at the ripe old age of 14, that little
girl became his girlfriend. Four years after then, Rosalind Cooke became
Mrs. Spencer Wm Dye.
If my math is correct, that's 46 years together and 42 years married.
The Greatest Treasure of my Life "is" Rosalind. The greatest gift she
shared with me "is" her LOVE. The greatest gift she ever gave me is our
I "am" the riches man in the world. Rich not in money, but unmeasurable
rich in the LOVE she has given me.
I started writing this at 6am. Without the aid of my glasses. If you
find errors in my writing, I'm sorry.
I just wanted to share with you, the only thing that really matters.
"The Greatest Love Story of all time"
Rest assured that the story has not ended because that little girl waits