Faye Emerson, 100, of Salida died Dec. 7, 2019, at Columbine Manor Care Center in Salida.
She had been in failing health since November 2017.
A longtime Salida resident, she was born April 23, 1919, at home in Rumney, New Hampshire, to George and Zilpha Emerson and was their only child.
Growing up in New Hampshire she walked 2½ miles to grade school and took a train the 8 miles to high school. In the summer transportation was by horse and in the winter by sleigh.
She attended Burdett College in Boston, business school in Nashville, Tennessee, Belknap College and the University of Alaska at Anchorage.
She moved to San Francisco, where she lived for four years while working for an international law firm. Most of her work over the years was in criminal and international law, which was the reason for much of her world travel.
She married Charles Spencer in New Hampshire in 1937, and their twin boys were born in November 1939.
After moving to Alaska, she worked with two Alaskan governors, Gov. Walter Hickel, who was later head of the Department of the Interior, and Gov. William Egan before Alaska became a state.
She was in Alaska on Good Friday in 1956 when a 9.6 magnitude earthquake hit. News in the San Francisco Examiner reported Anchorage was leveled, and it was four days before her family in San Francisco learned she had survived.
Flying was her passion. She learned to fly as a teenager and spent years as a bush pilot in Alaska. She also loved traveling and visited 96 countries and 20 island groups.
She drove the Alcan Highway 66 times, mostly during the winter. Another of her jobs was delivering cars from locations in the states to Fairbanks or Anchorage.
She described herself as “very independent” and loved following dirt roads to the end.
She visited Cuba during World War II and made the Trans-Siberian train trip when Russia was still communist, traveling 5,000 miles from Moscow to the Sea of Japan in 1963. She also enjoyed hiking in the Caucasus Mountains, which included Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain on the European continent at 18,510 feet.
She was one of the first to visit China after President Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit there in 1972, and she stayed for three weeks.
In 1954 she stopped in Poncha Springs to visit a friend, found a house and went to work for attorney Bob Nevens, the district attorney for Chaffee, Fremont, Custer and Park counties.
She enjoyed photography and presented travel lectures around the world.
She was a member of Alaska Gem & Mineral Club, Pioneers of Alaska, the Grange in New Hampshire, Eastern Star (58 years), Prospector Society, American Legion, Moose Run Golf Course in Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force Golf Course and was president of the Rebekah Lodge in Alaska.
She was preceded in death by an infant son.
Survivors include her son Wayne Spencer; granddaughters, Leisl (Ron) Sanders and Katie (Mike) Clark; four great-grandchildren; and friends all over the world and in Salida.
Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 14, 2019, in Fairview Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Salida Regional Library through Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home in Salida.
Arrangements are with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home.
Online condolences may be offered at lewisandglenn.com.
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