John Speidel was renowned for his insightful writing style. In his books, he often parodied the past in an irreverent manner, providing readers with a humorous take on Seattle’s early days.
While crafting these works, he was also drawn to the city’s underground tunnels and began urban spelunking – an activity which continues to fascinate him today.
Early Life and Education
Early childhood education is an integral component of a child’s development. It instills essential skills and concepts that will serve them throughout their lives.
Many theorists have made important contributions to early childhood education. Jean Rousseau was one of them, advocating that learning should be child-centered and offer endless sensory-driven and practical experiences.
Speidel was an influential figure in early childhood education. He established the Seattle Underground Tour, a popular tourist attraction run today by one of his children.
Speidel was an outspoken supporter of Seattle’s historical integrity, particularly concerned about the decline of Pioneer Square – its original neighborhood – from developers looking to demolish or rebuild. He led numerous protests against such proposals throughout his lifetime.
John Speidel has held various leadership roles throughout his professional life. Currently, he serves as Vice President for University Advancement at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He is accountable for spearheading a comprehensive fundraising program at the university and also directs its Office of Alumni Relations and Advancement Services.
He is a certified fund raising executive and has extensive experience working with national and regional fundraising organizations. His expertise spans various areas such as annual giving, major gifts, prospect research, donor relations management, and athletics giving.
Achievements and Honors
Speidel epitomized the University’s values of learning, integrity and high purpose while inspiring others to reach their highest potentials. He earned an array of awards and honors during his time at UVM.
He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and won the Scholar’s Prize for his outstanding academic record. Additionally, he won the Katherine Anne Kelly Award – given to graduating seniors who exemplify Kate’s courage in facing serious health conditions while still contributing to UVM student life with passion and energy.
He and his wife Shirley Ross Speidel were prominent members of Vashon Island’s community. She served as docent at the Museum of History and Industry, served on the board of advisors for Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, and founded and presided over Vashon Allied Arts.
John Speidel’s family was an integral part of his life. He shared a deep bond with both of his parents, who were highly regarded physicians in their fields.
They raised their children in Mount Baker and were active members of many social organizations. He also enjoyed visiting many of Chicago’s museums, libraries and historic sites.
His passion for Seattle’s history led to a major focus of his professional work. As secretary of the Pioneer Square Association, he spearheaded efforts to declare the neighborhood an official historic district and restored many buildings within.
He continued to write about Seattle, and together with his wife worked on a book which detailed Seattle’s past. This work was eventually published posthumously and serves as an invaluable resource for visitors to the city.
John Speidel had an estimated net worth of $8 million. He was a successful businessman and generous philanthropist.
He is best remembered for founding the Speidel Corporation in 1921, which manufactured watchbands. Over its 100+ year existence, this company developed many groundbreaking products.
Though initially successful, Speidel began to struggle against international competition and the introduction of quartz watches in the late 1980s. Ultimately, Speidel decided to sell their company to Textron in 1988.
He founded a trust fund to provide funding for children’s organizations. His second wife, Shirley Ross Speidel (1916-1994), had a significant influence on him; she encouraged him to become an activist for historic preservation and helped him launch The Seattle Guide, which he later sold to an investment firm.