Lent begins with mourning in this house. Justin “Jess Spiehler” husband of Jacquelyn Spiehler , father of Jason Spiehler who in turn is the father of my two nieces and a nephew listed here in this sentence and his siblings has deceased. Jess was the grandfather of Alyse E. Spiehler who is on my Facebook list still for those finding this from that source and my niece and godchild Anika Spiehler who once was on the list and nephew Soren Spiehler who are both siblings of Alyse and children of my sister Sarah Summers Granger and they found out this Mardi Gras that their beloved grandfather had died suddenly. I knew him far better than many people I had more reason to know despite the fact that we spent less time together than might nearly have been the case. We did share some number of long conversations over many years. Of course his life began a good while before mine did and mine had been going on quite q while before we met.
Jess, as he was known to most was born on June 18, 1939 in New Orleans, and I was born on June 15, 1964 in Crowley. We are both native sons of Louisiana and always had that in common although we never really discussed the closeness of our birthdays in any way whatever. A believer in Catholic education and otherwise in educational institutions Jess graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1957. He went on to complete a degree in Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, graduating at the top of his class. While there he was attached to the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps although he did not go that route in his career as far as I understand. He and my sister Sarah had that achievement of Baccalaureate excellence at LSU in common and we discussed the topic and also his love of engineering and his sense of being empowered by the degree and all it meant to him. While at LSU he met Jacquelyn Claire Remy, whom he married on September 2, 1961. Miss Jackie was as one would know the center point and solid home support for his life of activity. They had a gracious home together for many years and Jess liked to talk about what it took to build it on occasion.
It was the engineering in the oilfield which followed the graduation from LSU which paid for the home, charities and hobbies. Jess went to work for California Oil Company (now Chevron) and later for Signal Oil & Gas and Damson Oil and he kept working. In 1974 he moved to Lafayette, Louisiana to co-found Stokes & Spiehler and enjoyed a long and prosperous career. He felt he made a difference and the craftsman evident in much of his life was evident in his recollections of his career as well. It was something he crafted with his wife on one side and colleagues on the other. In addition he felt that he created modest but definable contributions to the development of the industry over his career. I did not always take the time that would have been needed to grasp the exact nature of a refinement of technique he felt he had contributed but I could see he had measured such things.
He was a man of noted achievement in business as and seemed to be well respected in the technical crafts and professions which underlay his businesses. He poured forth additional skill into fine woodworking and was notably present at family events at the educational institutions where his descendants excelled with his gracious wife. Further he raised funds for Family Missions Company in formal and informal ways. accompanied my brother to his handicapped Cursillo and was devoted to prison ministry. Mr. Spiehler also was an avid and accomplished outdoorsman.
Jess Spiehler had a sense of real satisfaction derived from pursuing a varied and highly successful career in an industry which is vital to the State of Louisiana, the Acadiana region and the Gulf Coast. He was truly steeped in its expertise, way of doing business and in the battle scars and callouses that can only come from years laboring in the intricacies of keeping things going in the oilfield. The link to his company follows and concludes this part of his obituary.
An obituary and guestbook will be available at this link:
It is an odd but noteworthy fact that I lost many pictures several times and there were a few years I seldom had a camera. But despite all that I simply did not really end up with any printable photographs of Mr. Spiehler when it came time post this. I looked for a while and was surprised. I don;t know if I ever asked him to pose. If not then it is partly because of respect for him at the given moment and yet I regret it. During my peak period for photographing family events he was ill and less often present but that would not have prevented a few pictures with his wife and grandchildren. That is the nature or life’s uncertainties.
The vigil and funeral of Mr. Spiehler were very dignified and elegant events without being in any way overblown and meaningful tribute was paid to his role in family, his work in nursing homes, his activity in St. Pius X Church Parish and the rosary was led by his brothers in the Knights of Columbus. This is in addition to the professional connections, the Kairos Prison Ministry and other achievements alluded to in this post earlier on.