Rev. Dr. James Roy “J.R.” Speece, 90, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, May 12, 2024. He was born May 29, 1933, in a log cabin in Northern Iredell County, the second oldest of eight Children to Nathan James and Eula Mae Souther Speece. He attended the three-room Olin Schoolhouse. After grade six he enrolled at the Harmony Junior High School and graduated from Harmony High School in 1952 as editor of the School’s Yearbook and vice president of his class. When he was age 12, he accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and was baptized and joined Hebron Baptist Church. After high school he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving three years in Hawaii. While in Hawaii, he served as chaplain’s assistant and was called by God to preach the Gospel. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marines, he enrolled at Piedmont International University. While in college, he met Lois Marie Capps of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., a fellow student, and in 1957 they were married. In 1958 he organized and then was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Union Grove. In 1959, he graduated from Piedmont International University with a Bachelor of Religious Education degree. He was president of his graduating class. The next year he received the Bachelor of Theology degree. On February 11, 1965, God blessed Dr. and Mrs. Speece with a beautiful daughter, Marlene Gail Speece, who died at age thirty-nine. She was a devoted Christian. They have no other children or grandchildren.

During these early years, Dr. Speece was employed by the Iredell County Department of Social Services as manager of the Mooresville field office. He was also Postmaster at Union Grove, N.C., for twenty-five years. In 1978, after twenty years as pastor, Dr. Speece resigned from Calvary Baptist Church to resume Ministerial and Theological Studies. He received the Doctor of Ministries Degree from Lake Charles Bible College. He received the Master of Religious Education, The Doctor of Divinity, The Doctor of Theology, The Doctor of Christian Counseling, The Doctor of Religious Education and the Doctor of Philosophy Degrees from Andersonville Baptist Theological Seminary. He was pastor of Community Baptist Church in Mount Mourne, N.C., for thirty-three years. He has been director of Heritage Grove Ministries and pastor of Heritage Grove Baptist Church in Union Grove since 2017, assisted in the ministry by his talented wife, Dr. Marie C. Speece.

In addition to his church and post office activities, Dr. Speece has served in various organizations. He has been a trustee of Iredell Memorial Hospital since 1977. He organized the North Iredell Volunteer Community Patrol, with approximately three hundred volunteer patrol-persons. It was the largest such volunteer organization of its type in the state. He was appointed chairman of the Iredell Crime Commission by Iredell County Sheriff Leroy Reavis. He was past president of the Union Grove School PTA, past officer of the Board of Directors for the Steering Committee and served as fireman and charter member of the Fire Department, past officer and member of the Union Grove Ruritan Club, served on the Southern Regional Committee for Certification of Hospital need, served as postmaster training officer for the Postal Service. Along with Kenneth Wooten, Pierce Vanhoy and others, he had a part in creating Tri-County Medical Park and was an officer and on the Board of Directors. He was director and counselor of Heritage Grove Christian Counseling in Union Grove for over twenty years. He and his wife Marie have lived in Union Grove since 1959.

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Speece was preceded in death by four brothers, Bob, Bill, David and Ken Speece; and two sisters, Thinie Speece and Josephine Harris.

Along with his wife, he is survived by one sister, Charlotte S. Starrette, and numerous nieces and nephew.

Visitation will be held Thursday, May 16, 2024, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church Union Grove. Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. with Rev. Steve Pope officiating. Burial will take place in the church cemetery with full military honors.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Calvary Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 298, Union Grove, NC 28689.

Troutman Funeral Home is serving the family.

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