YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Adventist Church Fund-Raiser Dies in Freeway Crash


THOUSAND OAKS — A lifelong member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who traveled across the globe to teach that a second coming of Christ is near, died early Friday morning in a car crash. He was on his way to the airport to raise money for a church-run television program.

John Robert Spangler, known to his friends as Bob, died about 5:30 a.m. on southbound 405 Freeway north of Santa Monica Boulevard, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Dean Bogios.

Spangler, a Thousand Oaks resident, was 75.

His 76-year-old wife, Marie, was taken to UCLA Medical Center, where she was reported in stable condition.

Two others were in the Ford Aero Star van with the couple. Volker Schmidt, of Lexington, Ky., a financial supporter of the Simi Valley-based evangelical television show "It Is Written," and the van's driver, Roy Supit. Both were reported in stable condition.

"Bob was a great person," said Lloyd Wyman, a ministerial director of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Westlake Village. "What made him special was that he worked at the world headquarters for ministers out of Washington, D.C., for many, many years. This was just tragic news."

Spangler was on his way Friday morning to Los Angeles International Airport, where he was to take a flight to the Washington, D.C., area to raise money for the 40-year-old Sunday morning television show hosted by pastor Mark Finley. The show, which airs locally on KCAL Channel 9, is broadcast on 40 network stations and 4,000 cable stations. It is taped at the Seventh-day Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley.

According to the CHP, the accident began when a Volkswagen bug lost control and crashed into the center divider. That caused a chain-reaction three-car pileup that closed highway lanes for two hours. Spangler was thrown into the road by the crash and pronounced dead at the scene.

The woman driving the Volkswagen, whom officers identified as Cynthia Norris, 37, of Woodland Hills, is being investigated for possibly driving under the influence, according to the CHP.

Although Spangler was officially retired, he continued to work for the Seventh-day Adventist Media Center, raising money for the radio and television production center. He was also the coordinator of Project 66, which is dedicated to translating the Russian Bible into contemporary Russian.

He had raised millions of dollars to start numerous churches in Russia, according to a Seventh-day Adventist spokesman. For 30 years, Spangler was director of the ministerial department of the Seventh-day Adventist's General Conference, which is the group's world headquarters in Silver Springs, Md.

"He was a pastor to pastors," Wyman said. "He traveled overseas, especially in the Far East, as a mentor to others, preaching and holding workshops."

Spangler also was editor of the Maryland-based Ministry Magazine, a publication with a circulation of 250,000, dedicated to guiding ministers in their work.

Seventh-day Adventists believe that Jesus is a personal savior who will return to Earth soon. "Seventh-day" refers to the belief that the Bible permits no deviation from observing the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday, as the Sabbath.

Funeral services will be held in Loma Linda, although the date and time have not yet been established.

In addition to his wife, Marie, Spangler is survived by two daughters, Patricia and Linda.

Los Angeles Times Articles