Spencer Rollins Mims, Jr.

September 09, 1930 - November 03, 2022


Obituary For Spencer Rollins Mims, Jr.

Spencer Rollins Mims Jr. died November 3, 2022 in Raleigh, NC. He was ninety-two. Spencer was born September 9, 1930 in Durham, NC, the son of Spencer Rollins Mims Sr. and Madlynn Eloise Poole Mims and was a ninth generation descendant of the colonial Mims family of Virginia and North Carolina.

When he was eleven his family moved to Henderson, NC and during high school he discovered his passion for music and began learning to master the trumpet. This ignited his lifelong work in both performance and music education. He liked to recall that he played “paying gigs” from the age of sixteen until into his eighties. “Rollins”, as he was known then, had a great sense of humor and won the wittiest superlative of his senior class.

After instruction under band director W. Tom Hearne at Henderson High School he attended East Carolina University, majoring in Music Education. At East Carolina he was fortunate to perform in The Collegians big band (director Herbert L. Carter’s “The Best Band in Tarheel Land”); a talent incubator where he met lifelong colleagues and friends. Best of all, while at the university he met and married the love of his life and wife of forty-four years, Mattie Brown Stancill, who was from a Greenville, NC farming family. After graduating from East Carolina he began his career as the high school band director at Roxboro, NC, later moving his growing family to Charlotte, NC where he taught band at Charlotte Technical High School, ultimately landing a position as concert/marching band director at newly built Myers Park High School. By this time, he had spent several summers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying to obtain his Master’s degree.

During his decades-long tenure at Myers Park he transitioned from band to orchestra while also teaching at Alexander Graham and Sedgefield Junior High Schools. He served on the All-State Orchestra auditions and judging committees and the orchestra participated in juried music festivals and contests. Notably at Myers Park, he was the coordinator/conductor of twenty-one annual, large scale musical productions; fusing the dramatic, orchestral, choral, set design, and costuming talents of students and faculty into multi-day, sold-out performances. Many former students regard these musicals as the pinnacle of their Myers Park experience. Spencer valued mentoring the personal and educational development of his students, and believed that experiential learning and the impact of good teaching could span generations. He maintained lifelong friendships and contact with many of his students through the years.

Spencer also employed his conducting and choral skills as director of the Charlotte Boys Choir (New York and Florida performances), coordinating music scores for the Arthur Smith Studios, and as the decades-long Minister of Music at Mouzon United Methodist Church where he and family were members. Mouzon services were music filled, often including special performances with guest vocalists accompanied by some of his students, his children, and their circle of musical friends. Music played an important role in his family and all three children learned to read music, play an instrument, and sing.

In addition to his classical performance for weddings, various ceremonies and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, he played with many prominent swing and jazz groups of the Charlotte area music scene including The Billy Knauff Orchestra, The Loonis McGlohon Band, Neil Griffin’s band and Bennie Jones’ band. During the latter decades of his career he played primarily in the Just Us band and the Seventh Street Gator Band with steadfast friend and colleague, drummer Andy Anderson. He also played for touring events visiting Charlotte such as the Ice Capades, Ringling Brothers Circus, the Charlotte Summer Theatre, and John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Charlotte Coliseum speech. On any Saturday that he had no gig booked, he knew the phone would start to ring; it was “first come first served” and he would soon be headed out the door, trumpet case in hand.

A special joy for Spencer was the arrival of both of his beloved grandchildren. He relished being a part of their lives and watching them develop into successful adults.

His other interests included literature, film, history and genealogy. He had a generous spirit, and supported those in need in the community. He loved dining out, treating his extended family to countless restaurant dinners. Spencer also enjoyed the North Carolina coast, holidays with family, grilling steaks and playing badminton in the backyard, The Andy Griffith Show, reunions at the Stancill farm near Greenville, UNC basketball, BBC television, Southern cuisine, and the atmosphere of city nightlife.

Spencer appreciated the many kindnesses shown to him by residents and staff of the Springmoor Life Care Community since his moving there in 2014.

Spencer is survived by daughter Deborah Poetzsch and husband John; son Stephen Mims and wife Caroline Pearson-Mims; grandson David Poetzsch and wife Elizabeth; granddaughter Courtney Baker and husband Dane; and sister-in-law Sarah Glasgow. He was predeceased by his wife Mattie S. Mims; son Spencer R. Mims III; and brother Thomas E. Mims.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Springmoor Life Care Community, 1500 Sawmill Rd., on Saturday December 3 at 2:00 pm.

Donations in his memory may be sent to the Children’s Home Society of NC, PO Box 14608, Greensboro, NC, 27415; or the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, 1924 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC, 27604; or the Springmoor Endowment Fund, 1500 Sawmill Rd., Raleigh, NC 27615.


3 Dec

Memorial Service

02:00 PM

Springmoor Life Care Community 1500 Sawmill Rd. Raleigh, NC 27615 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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  • 09/11/2023

    Spencer Mims was the #1 Best of the best teachers in my book! From learning music at Myers Park under his direction to meet-ups decades later! He and I shared laughter from time to rime that are etched deeply in my mind forever. Rest in peace my friend! Larry Poole

  • 08/27/2023

    I just learned of Spencer's passing. He was my second dad. I have cherished memories of us spending time together singing in the Mouzon choir, playing our trumpets with Steve and Spencer III and attending the musicals at Myers Park. I learned so much from Mr. Mims and laughed at his comments and jokes. He included me in many events with the family including trips to the beach. He always did the right thing and taught me to do the same. He helped develop my music talent and I found so much comfort in confidence I had due to his leadership. He also picked on me and said I would show up anywhere unexpectedly. I will always miss and appreciate his humor and companionship.

  • 01/07/2023

    Although I only had 1-2 opportunities to enjoy Mr. Mims' company, I know he was an intelligent, accomplished and devoted man. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family.

  • 11/30/2022

    To my fellow Myers Park Mustangs, I had the chance to talk with Mr. Mims on a phone call just this year. It was a like a time machine and just like you would remember his voice. He talked about how he got into music, his time in his jazz bands, and most of all about how much he loved his students throughout all the years and especially the musicals, how much hard work they were but how important they were as well in our experiences. Thank you to the Mims family for loaning your Dad, Granddad to us over so many years. Just a few of the memories and what he did for me for my career and my life: Incredibly Mr. Mims offered 4 of us AG Junior High School orchestra students the chance to cut 2 junior high school classes and walk over three times a week I think (?) to join Myers Park Senior High School's own orchestra. It was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life to take him up on his offer. During Handel's Messiah, for some reason he placed our double bass section right there with him at his conductor stand, and with the very full Myers Park Choir completely surrounding us, when the orchestra played and the chorus sang with their massive and glorious sounds, you would have thought the Lord HIMSELF had descended on Earth. There are no further words I can use to describe that other than when I die I hope I can/will hear that again. Mr. Mims taught us to listen and isolate each instrument while the orchestra was playing. It is like exploring all the parts of a multi colored musical tree. How wonderful to be able to do this even now. I remember the sense of relief and professional satisfaction on his face when we completed each season's musical run. He told us if we kept at it (playing music) that we would probably make a little money doing it (like he did in his various jazz bands). Indeed it was true as I continued playing bass in college, in the military in Japan and Germany and now here at NASA. I've even sat in with the Chieftans (the famous Irish band), playing bass on Van Morison's Moondance with the Houston Orchestra, Astronauts on stage and Astronaut Chris Hadfield in Orbit on guitar. And the superstar Paddy Moloney himself counting me in to start that song with my bassline. That experience and so many others are due to Mr. Mims. On this Saturday morning, the very day of Mr Mim's Celebration of Life I will be working in NASA's Mission Control, supporting an actual spacewalk from the flight SURGEON Console. When I give tours of this place I ALWAYS tell people mission control is like an orchestra, with the FLIGHT DIRECTOR the orchestra conductor, where he/she directs all the players and specialists and every specialist listens to all the conversations and information on the radio channels and communications loops just like we listen to all the other instruments in that same orchestra. Mr. Mims taught me to do this job. We really love Mr. Spencer Mims and all he has done for us and 1000s of students like us. Very respectfully and eternally grateful to Mr Mims and his family, Josef "Joey" Schmid, MD MPH Current NASA Flight Surgeon Major General (retired) United States Air Force 3rd then 1st Chair Bass Player for Mr. Spencer Mims 1978-1983 (AG and Myers Park)

  • 11/15/2022

    Johnny Reeves has expressed very eloquently what I am sure many Myers Park alumni remember if the impact Mr Mima had on our lives. I myself think back on my participation in his productions of "The sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof" as among the happiest, most challenging and most satisfying experiences of my high school years. He and Mr Clark were a talented duo and created outstanding performances, bringing out the best from every student who participated from the stage, the pit and behind the scenes. I regret not having sought an opportunity in recent years to let Mr Mims know what a strong, positive and lasting impact he had on many students. He leaves a lasting legacy on many! Lucia Halpern

  • 11/14/2022

    I am So sorry for your loss. Your Dad, your Grandad, your family member, your friend was Mr Mims to me and was my teacher. He provided me and so many fellow AG and MP students with real authentic opportunities to unlock an inner love of music. He taught us that great productions require dedicated musicians and hard working members of a much larger production team. He taught us that If we all work hard as a team, we can All have an incredible experience that lasts a lifetime. He taught me love of family. I remember being in the 'Pit' with Mr Mims' son Stephen in one such production at MP and watching a very proud father on the Director's podium and a very proud loving Mom, his "Mimsy" pulling one such production together so that Stephen from Olympic HS and his MP friends All had that great experience. Mr Mims taught me hard adult lessons, including parenting children living with mental illness. Mr Mims taught me not only to stand up for what is right, but to stay steadfast and advocate for what we all must do for what is needed. I will miss you my dear teacher. I will miss you and I will continually benefit from your lessons, hopefully paying it and Playing it forward. Much love to the Mims family and friends. You are all so fortunate to have had this wonderful man as part of your life. I Know I do share that fortune. Johnny Reeves, Charlotte, NC

  • 11/10/2022

    I was a former student of Mr. Mims at Myers Park high school (81-83). I can honestly say Mr. Mims was one of the best teacher I ever had because he knew I had a terrific talent, would not let me get lazy, and pushed me to a point where I not only got inducted to the Honor Society for musicians, but gave me the confidence to win a lot of pageants which led to a professional career in the tv and film industry. Thank you Mr. Mims, for your guidance and support. I wished I had a chance to thank you in person, but at least your family will know you have one very appreciative student. Rest in peace sir.

  • 11/09/2022

    Spencer was a colorful character with a sharp wit and generous heart. He loved his family and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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