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Trenton Man Comes to the Rescue of Those in Need, Wins Patch Award

Trenton resident James Spears, 65, keeps coats for men and women in his car in case he sees someone around the city who might need one.

"Can you keep a secret," James Spears asked jokingly as he looked around to make sure the coast was clear. A moment later Spears lifted up his argyle sweater to reveal a Superman T-shirt given to him by his daughter.

Spears, too, is a super man.

A constant contributor to his community, Spears was recently named the 2012 Patch Community Service Person of the Year by the Trenton-Grosse Ile Patch. Spear's daughter, Jodi Williams, nominated him for the award in November 2012.

Spears and Superman have a few things in common. They both wear glasses and they both help the helpless. While Superman uses super-strength to save the day, Spears relies on his faith in God.

"I still stop and fix flat tires," Spears said. "If I see someone struggling or look like they're in need of a ride or a coat or something to eat, I'll stop to offer that."

Spears, 65, keeps men's and women's coats in his car in case he sees someone who might need one.

Spears moved to Trenton from Kentucky when he was 19 years old to take a job at the Ford Motor Company's Woodhaven Stamping Plant. He retired from the plant about 10 years ago.

While living in Trenton, Spear's married his high school sweetheart and wife of 46 years, Madlyn, and raised two children. They currently raise their grandson, Todd, 21, to whom they became primary guardians when he was 22 months old. He is currently enrolled at Wayne State University. He wants to be a doctor.

Spears saves the day (again and again)

Each Christmas season Spears and his wife send between 10 and 12 checks out to local organizations like the Trenton Goodfellows and the Salvation Army, and to people across the country.

Through a friend, Spears heard about a sick boy in Arkansas and, just before Christmas, sent him a check for an amount he preferred to keep to himself.

While driving one day a few years ago, Spears noticed a man stranded on the side of the road. The man's truck had a flat tire. Spears drove back to his house, picked up a spare tire and gave it to the stranded man.

In 2012, Spears met a single mother of two without a place to live or means of transportation. He, with the help of the Trenton Church of Christ, helped the woman get an apartment and get signed up for the Trenton Food Pantry.

Occasionally, Spears will drive to the woman's apartment to drop off food from the pantry.

Spears owes his benevolent nature to his faith in Christ

"All of this is made possible by the grace of God," Spears said. "That I am healthy enough and that I am financially capable of doing these things."

Like Superman, Spears doesn't ask for anything in return.

"I think that we were put here to save souls," Spears says. "To lead people to the Lord...it seems like I get presented with those situations and you have to make the decision of doing something or not doing anything."

See Spears accept the Patch Community Service Person of the Year Award at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Trenton City Awards held at the Trenton Village Theatre. Contact the Trenton Parks and Recreation Department for ticket information.

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Julia Kovach January 10, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Now this is the face of one of our everyday heros! I love the idea of keeping extra coats in the car. I have some extra ones in my closet that I'm going to put in my car tonight! My hat is off to James Spears! This is how it's done, folks. Just saying . . .
Andrea Dadabbo-Davis January 11, 2013 at 01:03 AM
Awesome story! We need more people like James Spears in this world!
Christie January 11, 2013 at 01:09 AM
what a wonderful article! and indeed a great idea about the coats. :) congratulations to a truly inspirational man!
Sue Worden January 11, 2013 at 05:20 AM
He is one of the kindest men I know. The Spears family is truely one of a kind. They are amazing. I feel blessed to know them.
michelle January 11, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Wow...that is great. How many people do you see (or try not to see) that could use help. The idea of having extra stuff in the car is great. Whether it is coats or even some spare food. You could buy some spare stuff from the Salvation Army, helping them by buying from them and then giving it back to those who need it. That's a double dose of help. :-)
Si'nee Anthony January 11, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Wow, what a great story on a great person. You are one-of-a-kind and rare. Not many people would stop to do a good deed or think twice about helping a stranger. You are better than Superman, he was fictional and you are the living version. It is a honor to know you. Congrats on the award, I believe if there were more of you in the world there would be less violence and hungry to stamp out.

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