Walter J. Spaeth

Walter J. Spaeth, long-time resident of Riverhead, passed peacefully after a long battle with leukemia, on June 3, 2024. He was 84 years old.

He was born in Huntington Station on Jan. 11, 1940, to Joseph and Josephine Spaeth. He was always proud of the fact that he graduated from Chaminade High School — working and paying his own way. He attended as much college for electrical engineering as he could afford, then joined the workforce. He married the love of his life, Joyce (née Peters) in 1961, and they moved to Riverhead to start their family. He was blessed with three loving children: Wendy, Peter and Meghan.

Walter was a true jack-of-all-trades. He worked at Republic Airport as an electrician, he was an exceptional auto mechanic and auto body repairman and ran several gas stations in the ’60s and ’70s. He also had his own contracting business building and installing Florida rooms, awnings, storm windows and siding, and he was a certified electrician. For a while he ran a local laundromat. He even built a house by himself, with only a second pair of hands to help.

Walter’s family considered him a genius. You could give him anything that didn’t work and he could take it apart, figure out how it worked, and fix whatever was broken. One time, back in the early ’80s, he even fabricated a geo-thermal cooling system for a fellow business owner, from knowledge he had learned from science magazines, just because they needed it and he wanted to help. He truly loved to use his skill and knowledge to help others. His daughter Wendy is eternally grateful, as she was often the beneficiary of his technical expertise.

Walter is survived by his wife, Joyce, to whom he was married just shy of 63 years; and his daughters Wendy Morrin (Tim) and Meghan Quinn. He was recently predeceased by his son, Peter, but Peter left behind his loving wife, Donna, and grandchildren Veronica and Jonah and Jonah’s fiancée, Danielle Thomas. He is also survived by his sister Elinor Thatcher; several nieces and nephews; and extended family.

During his last days, when asked about his happiest memories, he said simply, “my three kids” and “family” — and it’s that family that will miss him dearly.

A viewing will be held at Tuthill-Mangano Funeral Home in Riverhead on Wednesday, June 12, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and a funeral Mass is scheduled at St. John the Evangelist Church in Riverhead at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 13, with internment at St. John’s Cemetery to follow.

This is a paid notice.