Former president of the Asphalt Institute and a founding father of the asphalt highway industry, he served the Asphalt Institute in many positions including Director, Secretary and President. Mr. Spencer's remarkable career covered a full half century of American construction history. Born in 1879, he graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and, as a young civil engineer, he had a hand in building New York City's original subway system. From 1905 to 1908 he was employed by what is now the New York State Department of Public Works on construction of the original Barge Canal, and later as resident engineer with the State Highway Department on road construction at Watertown, N.Y. and on Long Island.
He was one of a group which included Prevost Hubbard of the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, Pillsbury of Massachusetts, Blanchard of Rhode Island, and Shirley and Crosby in Maryland, who became convinced that asphalt cement, penetrated into macadam stone, would provide durable and economical highways that would be the answer to destruction wreaked on water-bound macadam roads by rapidly-increasing automobile traffic. Out of their experimental work grew the penetration type macadam pavement. The petroleum industry at this time became aware of the potential of asphalt for highway paving, and in 1908 Mr. Spencer was employed by the Standard Oil Company of New York as development engineer in the classification of various grades of asphalt required for highways to handle the growing traffic. In 1912 he was transferred to the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and served as consultant for many years. His work in this field was interrupted by World War I when he served as commanding officer of a company of U.S. Army Engineers engaged in building roads in the advance sector in France. With the 1919 founding of the Asphalt Institute, Mr. Spencer was designated a Director representing Standard Oil Company of New Jersey and later served the Institute directly as mentioned above.
Support and commitment is highlighted on a permanent plaque at the Asphalt Institute’s Headquarters and Research Center in Lexington, KY.