Longtime Lake Wylie resident remembered for community work

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comJuly 15, 2013 

— Roberta Spampinato had one of the more unusual ways of celebrating July. This July, it’ll be her friends celebrating the life of a woman who gave much of her life to Lake Wylie causes.

Spampinato, 70, died July 5 while living in Moncks Corner. She moved there in February after a cancer diagnosis, to live with daughter Robyn. Robyn Spampinato said last week she’s still working on arranging a memorial service for her mother in Lake Wylie, likely by the end of the month.

Roberta Spampinato lived in Lake Wylie for about 35 years. She worked with the River Hills Community Association. She helped found the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce. She kept books for decades with Business Services of Lake Wylie. She volunteered with and kept books for the Sweet Repeat thrift shop and Kenya Orphanage Project. She served as a River Hills Lion.

“She had a hand in so many things,” said Sandee Wilkerson, who worked in the same building as Spampinato for decades.

Wilkerson and husband John opened the building at 1 Executive Court in the late 1970s.

“She, I believe, was the first tenant,” Sandee Wilkerson said of Spampinato. “She was there forever, and she did all the books for River Hills Realty and then as it became First Properties of the Carolinas. She handled so much business.”

Friends don’t just remember her for professional and volunteer work. They remember a dry sense of humor and a constant willingness to help. A common recollection is the somewhat peculiar summer tradition Spampinato kept in recent years. It started when physical ailments ruined a holiday or two.

“She would have a Christmas party in July,” said friend Norma Wood. “They had a couple of very bad Christmases, and she said she was just not going to do Christmas in December anymore. She’d do it in July.”

Spampinato put the tree out and decorated in holiday attire. Tacky or goofy gifts were exchanged, friends say. The party meant enough to Spampinato that she asked Wood to continue it. Spampinato had the idea that people are rushed and scattered in December, so partying in the summer allowed them to better enjoy each other’s company.

“Very generous, very kind,” Robyn Spampinato said. “She was the sort of person who would do anything for anybody.”

Spampinato was particularly proud, her daughter said, of being named Citizen of the Year by the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Friends say Spampinato was a link to Lake Wylie’s past, having been involved in so many events and groups that helped shape the area.

But her memory will live on in the present, too, Wood said. Starting with that Christmas party.

“She asked me to do it,” Wood said, “so I’m going to do it.”

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