It wasn’t just the veterans community
that loved and admired Dann Spear, it was anyone who had the chance to
spend a few minutes learning from him, said friends.
He was a community leader, collector of history, a professional cowboy
and decorated roper, a long-time Sutter County employee, and a
storyteller who was always looking out for the well-being of others,
something those closest to him will remember him by.
And he founded, built up and took care of the Museum of The Forgotten Warriors.
Spear, 63, died unexpectedly Thursday. He is survived by his wife,
Roberta, sons Caron and Brandon, and daughters-in-law Erin and Cotie.
Roberta Spear said her late husband could best be described as “multi-faceted.”
“My philosophy of life with Dann, after 43 years of marriage, is this:
It was frequently annoying, but never boring,” she said. “He lived life
to the fullest. I don’t think there was anyone that met Dann that
didn’t like him.”
Roberta said her husband loved listening to people’s stories, no matter
their rank or where they came from. Spear felt everyone had a story to
tell and that those stories were important, she said.
“He was an amazing dad to us and all my friends,” Carson Spear said.
“He taught us all how to rope; he was at every sporting event and
promotion ceremony; he was there when I got back from Iraq. It’s been
awesome to see such an amazing outpouring of support from the
Curator for the forgotten
Though he was many things, Spear was known by most for being the
founder, director and curator of the Museum of the Forgotten Warriors –
something he started over three decades ago out of a small room on his
family’s property that has now turned into something much more.
“We never set out to have this giant thing, but it took on a life of its own as the years went by,” Roberta said.
Many that have walked through the halls of the museum and gazed at its
complete collection of war memorabilia consider it the Yuba-Sutter
area’s “best kept secret.”
Don Schrader, a long-time friend and a board member of the museum, said
Spear helped him and countless other veterans feel appreciated for
their service and gave them a sort of home away from home when they
needed it the most.
“He was just a special guy,” Schrader said. “He never served in the
military himself, but he built this museum to honor veterans. I heard
him say it thousands of times, ‘the museum is not about war, it’s about
people,’ and that’s what it truly is.”
Another one of the museum’s board members, Tony Pinto, who has helped
with the museum every step of the way, said Spear had been an avid
memorabilia collector since he was about 10 years old.
“He had some friends go to Vietnam, so he started the museum as a way
to say ‘thank you’ to them. It has continued to grow over the years to
what it is now,” Pinto said.
Pinto, who was given the nickname “Tony man” by Spear, said his friend
was a fantastic man who liked to make people laugh. He said Spear was a
“saint” who would lift his spirits whenever he was down and would
frequently give Pinto the keys to the museum when he needed to get away
“He was always there with open arms and to give you a ‘thank you for
your service,’” Pinto said. “He would always like to sit around with
veterans and listen to their stories. For me, he was always someone I
knew I could talk to.”
Schrader said Spear had a knowledge about war and history that is hard
to find. Spear knew every “nook and cranny” of his museum, he said, and
had stories about each piece.
But board members don’t plan on letting the history Spear collected over the years fade away.
“It’s absolutely critical that Dann’s legacy lives on, and it will,” Schrader said. “We will carry on what he started.”
Celebration of life
A memorial is planned to celebrate Spear’s life. Roberta said the theme will be “no regrets.”
A service will be at 10 a.m. March 17 at the Adventure Church of Yuba
City – 1100 Garden Highway – followed by a gathering for food and
stories at the Museum of the Forgotten Warriors – 5865 A Rd.,
Roberta said anyone interested in helping the family can donate to the
Museum of the Forgotten Warriors, something her husband would’ve wanted.
For more information, go to http://www.museumoftheforgottenwarriors.org/
Dann Spear talks about a display of dog tags representing each American
service members who lost their life in Afghanistan and Iraq at the
Museum of the Forgotten Warriors on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011.
Spear’s eternal message to Vietnam veterans
Dann Spear put up a plaque the day the Museum of the Forgotten Warriors opened. Here is what it says:
Honoring Vietnam veterans
The dispute over whether the war was right or wrong, and whether it was
winnable is not ours to answer. With this plaque and the raising of the
American flag today, we are honoring all Vietnam veterans who, during
such troubled times, gave so unselfishly. The Museum of the Forgotten
Warriors is dedicated to you, the veterans, in tribute of your service
to this country. Lest you not be forgotten. I, along, with the citizens
of the United States, want to thank you one and all.
Curator of the Forgotten Warriors
Jan. 5, 1985