Alabama Academy of Honor

William Micajah Spencer

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1976.

William Micajah Spencer, an attorney from Birmingham, presided over the Birmingham Museum Board since 1955.

Mr. Spencer was born in 1890 in Gallion near the southern boarder of Hale County. In 1908 he graduated from Marion Institute, a short distance away, and from there he went to the University of Alabama, where he received a B.S. degree in 1910. Three years later he graduated from the Harvard Law School, was admitted to the Alabama bar, and established a practice in Birmingham, which he maintained until he retired in 1950.

For many years Mr. Spencer was a farmer as well as a lawyer. He owned a farm near his family home in Gallion and anther in Marengo County and returned frequently to supervise the operation of both. An astute businessman, he was able at the same time to direct the affairs of the Robertson Banking Company and the Blackhawk Electric Membership Corporation in Demopolis. In Birmingham he also served on the boards of the Owens-Richards company and Metalplate and Coatings, Inc. for many years.

Despite the demands of his multiple careers as business, farmer, and lawyer, Mr. Spencer always found time for community service as well. During Wold War I he was a first lieutenant in the Army, and after his discharge, he remained in the services for nearly 20 years. During World War II he joined the staff of the Birmingham Ordnance District as member of the Price Adjustment Board, and for his achievements, earned a commendation for the Chief of Ordnance of the United States. Following the war, he was a member of the board of the Birmingham Botanical Society for 20 years, as director of the Alabama state Fair authority for 23, and a member of the board of the Birmingham Children's Hospital for 24.

But undoubtedly his most ardent commitment after his retirement was to the work of the Birmingham Museum Board, of which he became the chairman in 1955. During the 20 years after Mr. Spencer took office, the museum became one for the best in the Southeast, and consistent with this policy, offered "something for everyone." All of its programs benefited by his generosity: for 20 years he donated money, gave works of art to the collections, and spent hours supervising the museum's administration. In addition, he led three successful campaigns to raise funds to build more galleries and was largely responsible for the construction of the east wing dedicated in 1967, and the William M. Spencer galleries dedicated in 1974. The Spencer Galleries were named by an ordinance of the Birmingham City Council, which recognized Mr. Spencer's contributions to the growth of the museum and its influence on the cultural like for the city. Certainly the honor was well-deserved, as was the honor he received in 1968, when he was named Birmingham's "Man of the Year" for his outstanding work on behalf of the community.

As a member of St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands Protestant Episcopal Church, Mr. Spencer also found time to serve as a member of the vestry, a junior warden, and as a senior warden. In addition, he was the Registrar of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama for 3 years, from 1937 to 1971. He also belonged to as number of social and fraternal organizations, including the Scottish Rite of Free Masonry, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Theta Nu fraternities, the Newcomen Society in North America, the Birmingham Historical Society, the English Speaking Union, and the St. Andrews Society of the Middle South. He belonged to the Redstone Club, the Mountain Brook Club, the Downtown Club, and the Relay House as well.

In 1915 he married the former Margaret Woodward Evens, who died in 1966. They had three children, Margaret Woodward, William III, and Bertha Underwood. Mr. Spencer is now deceased.