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Loving Tribute to a Father Helps Caregivers Cope: Jamie Spooner creates
I Care Village in honor of Robert J. Spooner

By Bonnie Allen
North Bay Business Journal

December, 2009

SANTA ROSA –In the video, Bob Spooner sits in a comfortable chair at his beloved Maine vacation home and reminisces about his life. His speech is slow and deliberate as he recalls his childhood, marriage, service in World War II, graduation with honors from Yale and his inventions that were far ahead of their time. Family photos of his childhood, military service, wife and children flash on the screen as he talks.

You may watch the video online at a site that Web designer Jamie Spooner created to help other caregivers through the experience of caring for a loved one: Jamie was forced to deal with her father’s final illness from across the country. There were many trips back and forth and decisions to be made in the midst of anxiety. After a week in the hospital, with his life in the balance, says Jamie, “there was this ‘aha!’ moment—wow, how does all this work? The discharge nurse called and said, ‘He’s leaving tomorrow, where does he go?’ And then there was Medicare—how does Medicare work? And all the other decisions. Never mind the emotions, and that you’re already busy in your own life—how do you handle somebody else’s life when they’re 2,000 miles away?”

Some research convinced her that, although there was a wealth of online information for caregivers, none of the sites offered the kind of heartfelt and personalized help that Jamie sought. Out of these observations arose a business, I Care Village, and its Web site. “It’s really a passion project,” says Jamie, but one that she hopes will become self supporting. “Other sites have information, articles, topics. But all of our content is original, mostly written by us or for us.”

Jamie is president and founder of, a Santa Rosa Web site design and development company. She has seven years as a design program manager at Microsoft under her belt, as well as a background in marketing products and services. She’s a graduate of Smith College. The brand new site is in many ways a tribute to Jamie’s father, and he is front and center on the home page. “My father and I were very close, very alike”says Jamie. “He was an entrepreneur. He was exceptional, with a generous spirit, creative, a visionary. He didn’t come from a lot of money; he went to Yale on the G.I. bill.”

Bob Spooner did well for his family of three daughters, sending them to private schools and college at Smith and Wellesley. He holds the patent on the meat-slicing machine technology that delis still use today. He patented a videotape rental device that people could access with a credit card—the forerunner of DVD rental units in supermarkets today. After retirement at age 75, he continued to make contributions, such as writing a software program to help teach people to sail. “He loved technology and so wanted to contribute in a way he knew how. His mind was always active,” says Jamie. will offer two levels of membership to caregivers—one free and one with an annual fee. By partnering with organizations such as Seattle Arthritis Foundation and the Delta Society in Seattle, the site is able to offer original articles by experts in the field of aging. Paying members have access to experts they can talk to directly. But is more than a resource site for caregivers. Jamie believes fiercely that elders in our society deserve to be heard and honored. The site will become a repository of videos and stories from elders, and a documentary film, The Wisdom of Elders Across America, is in the works.

Robert J. Spooner passed away in September at the age of 84. Here are excerpts from Jamie Spooner’s eulogy for her father:

“My father was a man of few words but with much to say. Some remember his humor, that twinkle in his eyes as he delivered a joke. Some remember his soft-spoken words of wisdom, his soulful take on life. Some remember his focused and intense drive to solve creative problems in his 60+ years in the work force. Some remember his kindness and generosity. His desire to teach. Others remember his love of family, travel and frequent trips to Maine. He touched many people in many places. . . . He was part of the great generation.”

“He was a mortar gunner in the 20th Armored Division of the United States Army. Most people do not know that he was in the first troop (and third vehicle) to enter and liberate the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945.” “Because of the GI bill, my father was able to go to Yale University, with focus on engineering, and he graduated with honors.” “He was a good father and let us make our own decisions and our own mistakes.

When I was 18, I was challenged to make a decision between two colleges as the registration was due postmarked for the following day; and so my father wrote out two checks for two different colleges, handed them to me and said, ‘When you make your choice, tear up the one you do not want to go to,’ and so we sat in the car in a parking lot outside a mailbox for five hours as I deliberated over this huge life choice.”

“He was a wonderful husband and adored my mother. He was a good companion, friend and partner. He loved to make my mother laugh and they truly enjoyed each other. My father was a kind man . . . gentle in his life, gentle in his politics and never pushy about his agenda.” “My father may have died from heart disease but it was not due to lack of heart.”

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