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One of the Good Ones: Kevin "Bull" Spence was a friend to all

A gentle giant with a heart of gold who always had a smile for everyone he met -- this is just one way friends and family have described Kevin Spence after his sudden passing last month. Meet the man behind the nickname and see why everyone loved "Bull."
Kevin "Bull" Spence

Mr. Jack “Kevin” Spence, known affectionately by many as “Bull,” passed away suddenly in February 2024 at age 60.

A beloved member of the Statesboro community, Spence was born and raised right here in Bulloch County and certainly left his mark. 

Early days | Spence Family

You may recognize the Spence name from their family business: farming. Kevin’s mom was from the Mallard farm family, and he was one of three boys, alongside brothers Alan and Stacy, both of whom still farm today.

Kevin graduated from Portal High School in 1982, joking later in life that he had a PhD (“Portal High Diploma”). He was a tall guy, moving on from Portal to play basketball on a scholarship at Florida Junior College in Jacksonville. 

Sporty! | Spence Family

Although he planned to stay there to play and study education, with a dream of one day becoming a basketball coach, a family tragedy changed the trajectory of his life. In 1984, he lost both of his parents.

At that time, he conferred with his brother Alan and decided to return home and begin a career selling lumber. He later married Kelly (Brack) Spence, another Bulloch County native, here and built a life with her. Together, they were parents to daughter Jade and sons Brant and Brennen. He was a doting and fun dad, even into their adulthood.

Kevin & Kelly with the kids at a family wedding | Spence Family

He had worked at Howard Lumber for more than 30 years at the time of his death, and many say he was more of a friend than a salesman, making each person he encountered feel welcome and important.

He loved his family, the Georgia Bulldogs, the Portal Panthers, and his Swing Easy golf group at Forest Heights Country Club. He was a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, and earlier this year, he was inducted into the Portal High Hall of Fame.

While his original coaching dreams may have been set aside by unexpected events in his life, it is clear now that he still went on to positively impact countless people in our community, just by being himself. In the days following his death, social media was flooded with posts, comments, and messages about the kind of man he was.

The Spence Brothers | Spence Family

“Larger than life,” “kind-hearted,” “a friend to all,” “never met a stranger,” “always with a smile” — these are just a few of the many descriptions that tell the story of who Bull was. As one friend observed, all the messages have a common theme: “his smile, his beautiful spirit, and his heart of gold.”

Following Kevin’s passing, his cousin Steven “Earle” Tanner said that while many knew Kevin for his good nature and humor, they may not have realized it was because he knew true pain in life. His joyful spirit was meant to uplift and encourage others, even — or perhaps especially — when life was hard. Hearing stories about him and looking through photos, you can tell this was a man who, despite early tragedy, truly loved and enjoyed his life.

A great catch | Spence Family

He was a steady, positive presence in the lives of many, and several have remarked that nobody had more friends in Bulloch County than Bull! In the days that followed his death, Kelly says the family was showered with "overwhelming kindness and support" in the form of meals, flowers, visits, and hugs. That seems like a true testament to the many people who loved Bull.

You may be wondering, though, why “Bull?” That’s a question I had myself. Kevin’s cousin Keith Barber has the answer for us — sort of. 

“There are many rumors and assertions on this ultimate question,” Barber said. “Those that actually know about the Legend of ‘Bull’ are not even sure. He was many things to many people. All positive and productive, if I might say. We will just leave it at that.” The legend continues...

30 Years of Bull | Howard Lumber and Hardware

Kevin’s wife Kelly says it would be an understatement to say that he loved his family, and he also loved our community. It’s obvious that his family and this community truly loved him right back. Another of his cousins, Tanner's sister Andrea Whitfield, said that while Kevin's death left a void for all of them, "we know our world was better because of him."

According to friends, it was common to hear him say, “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” and his legacy will surely live on in the lives he blessed during his 60 years on Earth.

Here’s to “one of the good ones”; may we all be a little more like Bull.

Family Forever (2019) | Spence Family

Kevin Spence is survived by his wife, Kelly Brack Spence, daughter and son-in-law, Jade and Justin Ainsworth; sons, Brant and Brennen Smith; and his “little buddy,” the delight of his life, grandson and namesake “Baby Jack” Ainsworth.

Papa and Baby Jack | Spence Family

In addition, he is survived by brothers Alan (Beth) Spence and Stacy (Anna) Spence; mother-in-law Kathy Akins (Stanley); sisters-in-law Ashley Thompson (Matt) and Paige Dobbs (Johnny); nephews Forrest Spence, Collin Thompson, Bo Spence, Hayden Spence, Cannon Thompson, John Brinson Dobbs, and Haynes Spence; nieces Page Spence and Logan Dobbs as well as many aunts, uncles, and special cousins.