Peter Valli

Dr. Spencer Valli

Wednesday, January 1st, 1964 - Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
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Dr. P. J. Spencer Valli, PhD. aka Spence/Spenny died in his sleep on May 5, 2020 in Guelph, Ontario. He is predeceased by his parents Victor (Ted) and Edith Valli (nee Doran). He will be remembered by many friends in North America and the Netherlands. He will be especially remembered by his sister Dr. Lois Valli and her family (husband Dr. John Longfield, and children Shea and Olivia), by his brother, Robert Valli and his family (wife Elin Gwyn and children Perrin (Keira Hodkinson) and Alexandre and Madeleine) and by his stepmother Carroll Valli. He will also be fondly remembered by his three aunts Gilda Valli, Myrtle Varney and Gladys Sirola and cousin Kathleen Schmaltz.

Spencer was born on January 1st, 1964 in Brooks, Alberta . As a young child growing up in Guelph, he would chat with anyone he met. He brought his gregarious, outgoing, charming personality with him everywhere he lived. Despite disliking school as a child, Spencer turned his talents, amazing memory and bright smile to the academic stream and achieved a Ph D. at the University of Amsterdam in Infectious Diseases, while learning to speak Dutch (not an easy feat). He brought his skills in biochemistry and molecular biology to post doc positions at John Hopkins and University of California, San Diego. He returned to live in Guelph in 2007 after a life-changing brain injury to live close to family.

Spencer will be remembered from his younger days as a cyclist, trumpet player, and windsurfer, and driving around in his blue, 1972 MGB convertible. Spencer had amazing mechanical ability – switching engines for a week and then switching them back. And when his hands weren’t covered in automobile grease he could turn his abilities to sewing awe-inspiring and fancy, evening dresses.

In the last years of his life, due to his physical limitations, Spencer stayed informed on world events and connected via social media where he had many hundreds of followers. Despite his limitations, Spencer was both a friendly and vibrant person. And, unfortunately, someone who was unable to overcome his alcohol addiction and all the associated difficulties.

This week we lost a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew and a friend. We are very grateful to all the people who have befriended and helped Spencer along his life’s journey. We will hold a lasting image of Spencer, picturing him with a coffee cup in his hand, while listening to jazz, and smiling his beguiling smile.
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4 trees have been planted in memory of Dr. Spencer Valli

Lynn Kurp

Posted at 01:30pm
I met Spencer and his brother Rob back in the late 80's or early 90's when Rob and I were driving the only Fiat X 1/9's in Guelph and Spencer had the cute MG. Spencer and I became friends and we spent alot of time laughing at his outrageous adventures. I remember one in particular. He had driven his little MG right into that pond in Puslinch where the road suddenly forks around the water. He said no one would pick him up as he emerged looking like a swamp creature. We spent years chuckling over that story. When he went to Amsterdam he often called to chat and I always appreciated that he kept in touch. I was amazed at how truly brilliant he was and how he never seemed to let school interfere with his enjoyment of life. I will always have good memories of you, Spencer. And I am blessed that our paths crossed in life. Rest in Peace. Your friend Lynn.

Jantien Manders

Posted at 09:18am
This is sad news. Spencer was a PhD student when we met in the nineties, he was a kind and funny guy. I will always remember him, he bought me tulips once, because I had helped him with his appointment at the lab. My condolences to the Valli family.

Neil Renwick

Posted at 04:28pm
Write, Spencer, write like the wind!
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Neil Renwick

Posted at 04:25pm
It's hard to know where to start. Spencer and I did our PhDs together at the University of Amsterdam and we spent many a Friday afternoon on a terrace or even better in the university academic club. Somehow, Spencer managed to become a member and he used to sign me in as his guest. During the dreaded Dutch winters, we would sit in leather chairs in front of the fireplace and talk the evenings away. Spencer was huge fun with lots of Dutch friends, including Marcel, Rene, Cees, and Eline. He could also be fairly blunt but that was all part of his charm. I'm not sure how many people knew but Spencer had a prodigious memory, was widely read, a talented musician, and also a gifted investigator. Not surprisingly, he got on extremely well with Carleton Gajdusek, a visiting Nobel Laureate in our department, and I remember them both excitedly swapping stories. As we got to the end of our PhDs, Spencer one day saw me at my desk and said "Write, Neil, write like the wind". That became our mantra as we finished up. I'll miss you Spencer, you were there for the good times and bad. I imagine you and Carleton are now in the big lab in the sky.

Paul Robson

Posted at 10:45am
This is very sad news. I have many fond memories of time spent with Spencer in Guelph, visiting him in Europe (and the Alsace wine route), and cycling together. No doubt, the six-week cycling adventure through the Canadian Rockies that the two of us did back in the summer of 1988 is the highlight of these memories. A 1700+ km route (Calgary-Banff-Jasper-Mt.Robson-Kamloops-Revelstoke-Golden-Fernie-Crowsnest Pass-Calgary) with grueling all-day uphills and exhilarating downhills, on bicycles fully loaded with camping gear. It is unfortunate his later years were hampered by health issues as his originality in thinking could have contributed much greater to the scientific endeavor. I will continue to cherish my memories of my time spent with Spencer for all my remaining years. My heartfelt condolences to the Valli family. - Paul Robson (West Hartford, CT, USA)

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