By Cody Harrell
Mason Times staff writer
MASON— Twenty gallons. One-hundred-sixty pints. Four-hundred-eighty potential lives touched. Sixty-five years. One man.
Jerry Spink, 85, has been a Mason resident and blood donor since 1966. Coming out of the service after being drafted into World War II, Spink has given blood multiple times each year to Red Cross blood donation centers. On February 21, Spink reached a hefty milestone for any blood donor: 20 gallons of blood.
Spink donated his first pint of blood when he was discharged from the U.S. Army following his 20-month service in World War II. While reluctant to admit it, Spink was paid $25 for his donation and said he never knew it would change his life.
“I thought it was a little embarrassing for me that I was being paid to give blood,” Spink said.
Since his discharge, Spink has been donating in Farmington and Mason, his two long-term residences. Spink taught in public schools in Mason and Farmington for more than 35 years after graduating from Michigan State University in 1950.
“I feel good about it,” Spink said. “Never thought about the count until someone called from the Red Cross after the 20th gallon.”
After moving to Mason, Spink has been turned away from a blood only once due to an abnormally high blood pressure, 210 over 90. He said that while it could have kept him from giving blood multiple times, he took a blood thinner (Source: http://sideeffectsofxarelto.org/xarelto-lawsuits/) so he can continue to give.
Dorothy Spink, Jerry’s wife, has encouraged him to give blood despite a setback that prevents her from giving with him. Dorothy Spink, 84, said that giving blood took a toll on her body and caused her to pass out frequently. However, she said she would continue support for Jerry’s mission.
“It’s great that he can do it and help so many people without bothering (his body),” Dorothy said.
Jerry and Dorothy’s children, Jayne Hoxie, 51; Gary, 60; and Lynn, 63, have all attempted to follow in their father’s footsteps and give blood on a regular basis.
“My dad is a very self-sufficient man,” Hoxie said. “If he sets his mind on something, he’ll achieve it.”
Hoxie said that the values instilled in her and her family by Jerry have encouraged them to give back to their community. Hoxie’s three children have all given blood and attribute it to the determination and success of their grandfather.
Jerry is active in the community through programs such as “meals on wheels,” a program run by Mason citizens that delivers meals as far out as Dansville. He has been delivering meals throughout the Mason area for 26 years with his wife of 65 years.
When asked about his his ability to give blood, Jerry said he has never thought about stopping while there is still need for blood in the community.
“My blood is still good, and I am still healthy. I guess I’ll stop giving when I stop breathing.”