It turns out that it was not just a pause in Spencer’s musical career. On June 8, following two days of hospital hospice, Spencer breathed his last. Although I had thought we would be at home for the end of his life, it seemed that moving him would create more of an uncomfortable disruption for Spencer than remaining in the calm of the hospital setting. I will forever be grateful for the considerate care we received those two days. Our family remained nearby, as we quietly visited, invited our friend Aurora Nealand to play for Spencer, and generally kept Spencer company while he found his way through the veil. Andre brought in a piano and played Spencer’s favorite pieces; Corinna read to him. Each of us spoke with Spencer from time to time until my brown-eyed handsome man moved on.
Here is the full obituary for those wanting a synopsis of Spencer’s wondrous life. At the end is information about our upcoming memorial and donations in his name, should you feel so inclined. Thank you for keeping up with us on this journey. Your good wishes and shared energy have been a great help.
Spencer Ward Bohren was born on April 5, 1950, in the wind-swept town of Casper, Wyoming, and passed on June 8, 2019, in his adopted home of New Orleans. His death comes less than a year after his diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer. Spencer leaves behind two legacies: a fifty-five year career as a world-traveling solo musician; and the family he and his wife, Marilyn, built over their forty-two year marriage. In his music, Spencer accompanied his expressive singing voice with blues-and folk-based guitar and lap steel. Their children are Django Bohren (Aireekah), André Bohren (Amanda), Corinna Bohren Bakken (Thomas), and Tucker Bohren (Abigail). Grandchildren include Django’s sons Maximum, Eli, and Dylan, plus Andre and Amanda’s child due in October.
Traveling on the backroads of America, Spencer and Marilyn lived nomadically for a year before finding their way to New Orleans in 1976. The city drew them in, and they found home. By 1983, Spencer and Marilyn had three children and hit the road for what turned out to be a seven-year tour, crisscrossing the United States in a silver Airstream trailer, pulled by a red and white 1955 Chevy Bel Air. Not long after the youngest son, Tucker, was born, they settled briefly in Colorado before winding up in Wyoming for several years. The Crescent City soon called once again, and in 1997 they returned to New Orleans, where Spencer lived until his death and where Marilyn continues to reside.
Spencer toured America and Europe until the end, giving hundreds of performances annually. His music and art moved thousands of people around the world, and he leaves behind an impressive catalog of recordings, visual art, and magnificent stories, in addition to his work as a guitar and art instructor. Spencer’s dedication to his family and friends was unparalleled, and he touched the lives of countless people in his lifetime.
A celebration of Spencer’s life will be held on June 23, at the Marigny Opera House in New Orleans from 2 to 6 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a gift be made in Spencer’s memory to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Don Jamison Heritage School of Music. Gifts can be made at http://www.jazzandheritage.org/contribute?memorial