Long time Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club member John Spiers passed away on October 2, 2015. John was 87 years old and his health recently had begun to fail.
John joined the BLBC in 1993 and for many years local bowlers counted him among the club’s and the PIMD’s best bowlers. Not that he would have told you that: John’s wry and self-effacing wit put less-skilled bowlers at ease while giving himself the freedom to play brilliantly. As a skip, his teams relied on his ability pull the fat from the fire. As second, he provided solid, aggressive, and – when needed — hilarious advice to his skip (this writer can personally attest to this). Whatever role John played and whatever the outcome of his play, he always exhibited good sportsmanship and the simple enjoyment of the game of bowls. He quickly forgot the stings of losses and the pleasures of wins (though he would be the first to tell you that winning a game was pretty satisfying).
John came to us by way of the Richmond Lawn Bowling Club, but he hailed from Glasgow, Scotland. And there was no doubt that he was a true son of Glasgow. John was a private man not prone to boasting, but he did like to tell stories; he must have had hundreds of them. John lovingly told tales from his childhood about his neighborhood and its characters. He selectively shared stories from his time as a soldier in a Scottish regiment (he somehow managed to find something humorous out of being in Palestine when all sides seemed intent on shooting soldiers from the United Kingdom). He told about trips he’d taken and great games of bowls he’d won, lost, and witnessed. Most who knew John, though, probably remember him for his love of jokes. Conversations with John usually began with him saying, “Hey, I heard this joke…” John had a wide-ranging appetite for jokes, some better than others. But he was never cruel or unkind to anyone absent; and he had no patience for others who might want to gossip. Some might say John did not suffer fools gladly: he certainly did not suffer them silently.
Off the green, John was a generous man in providing rides for fellow bowlers to other greens, sharing drams of whisky (note the spelling) after an afternoon of draw games, and contributing to the craic of the group. He was a great bowler and an even greater friend of the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. One of John’s last visits to the BLBC happened on September 19, when he came to watch the club’s intra-club triples games. Though not well, he was 100% John Spiers that day: with jokes, stories, and bowling all around. We extend our condolences to John’s family, and we already miss him terribly.