Roger Dean Spitzmiller died peacefully of natural causes on August 27, 2021 at Broward Health Center, Fort Lauderdale. He was born March 12, 1949 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second of five children of Alton and Audrey (Hartman) Spitzmiller, who predeceased him. He graduated from Anderson High School in Cincinnati in 1967, studied at Miami University of Ohio and earned an Associate of Science degree at Broward Community College. He lived in Wilton Manors, Florida since 1971. In January 2012 he married Damari Medina-Benavides, originally from Colombia, who loved and cared for him in sickness and health.
In addition to his wife, he leaves siblings Joyce Magee (Tim) of Oakland Park, Florida; Rebecca Spitzmiller (Gianni Caracci) of Rome, Italy; Jeffrey Spitzmiller of Fort Lauderdale; Amy Banov (Robert) of Vero Beach, Florida; stepson Luis Alberto Meja and step grandsons, Luisfilipe and Luisfernando of Colombia, whom he lovingly supported for many years; six nieces and nephews, and many cousins.
Roger was a mischievous, carefree and athletic teen: he was a regular in Eight Mile Road neighborhood baseball games, lettered on the school swim team, and worked as a lifeguard. He was a remarkable man who lived a full, active life, defying doctors’ predictions that he would not live long after the motorcycle accident that paralyzed him at age 19. He drove a car and later a van, worked as a substitute teacher, launched and operated a photography business, owned and managed a small apartment building, played guitar, shot pool, and welcomed adventures such as building a small boat, traveling and camping on his land on the Ohio River. Over the years, he had many pets—dogs, cats, snakes and birds, including Joey the Irish Setter and April the African Gray parrot. He treasured his many friends, happily tolerating those who didn’t share his liberal political views.
His quest for true love was finally satisfied late in life. Even while facing recurring medical problems, he was most joyful during the last 10 years of his life, thanks to the devotion and care of his loving wife, Damari. They met online in 2010 and fell for each other, even though neither spoke the other’s language—an unlikely but true love story. After spending a few days together in Colombia that fall, they knew it was love at first sight. He applied for her fiancée visa, then returned to Bogotá for several months during 2011 while waiting for it to be approved. They began their new life together in Fort Lauderdale. She became his partner in every sense, and is now a bi-lingual American citizen, affectionately embraced by Roger’s extended family.
Roger will truly be missed and remembered as a strong, heroic man who defied many obstacles and never complained; he endeared himself to his family and friends with his courage, tenacity and cheerfulness. He was creative and playful, often encouraging friends and visitors to join in singing oldies while he strummed guitar or whistled. He left an unforgettable mark on many people, and will remain a source of inspiration as a good and gentle soul who loved life and made the most of it.
The family will gather via Zoom on Sunday, September 5, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. Loved ones who wish to join should contact Joyce Magee for the Zoom link.
Roger always had hopes for a cure for spinal cord injuries. Donations to wingsforlife.com, or other spinal cord research organizations would honor his memory.