Paul E. Spears, chairman of the board of Hanover Shoe Farms and executive vice president of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, has been elected as the 27th Little Brown Jug Wall of Fame honoree.
Spears will be officially inducted on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 22 during winner’s circle ceremonies on Little Brown Jug Day and will receive the commemorative gold ring and Little Brown Jug jacket.
“I was stunned when Phil Terry called to tell me I was elected to the Wall of Fame," said Spears. "You spend your whole life trying to build up your reputation as a person of integrity and doing good for the sport.”
Spears grew up in Reynoldsville, Pa., a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania. “I worked on Dad’s farm and I learned to ride a horse when I was 6 years old.”
Spears graduated with a degree in economics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He also went to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh and later for three years at Wayne University. While at Indiana University, Spears played football and was elected to his alma mater’s Athletic Hall of Fame. “I played offense and defense, any position they needed.” He also played baseball and basketball in high school and for independent teams.
While at Indiana University, he met his future wife Josephine. They married in 1949 and have two children and four grandchildren. Their daughter, Patricia Eisenhauer, is a retired attorney and their son, Dr. Paul F. Spears, is president and chairman of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company.
In 1953, Spears became controller of the Hanover Shoe Company, Hanover Shoe Farm and the Standardbred Horse Sale Company. “John Simpson Sr. was president and I often worked with horses in his stable at the farm. After a couple of years, I got my amateur license and drove on the county fair circuit. Later I earned my professional license and drove in many Grand Circuit races and four Breeders Crown events. I retired a few years ago because my wife was afraid I would be killed.”
Following Simpson’s retirement, Spears became president of Hanover Shoe Farms and worked in that position for 30 years. John Simpson’s son Jim is now president and CEO of Hanover Shoe Farms.
Spears has been a member of the Little Brown Jug Society since 1988, a director of the Hambletonian Society, a trustee of the Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., the Pennsylvania Standardbred Breeders Association and former president of the Pennsylvania Live Horse Racing Council for Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. The former amateur driver was also the first president of the Billings Amateur Driving Association.
Spears and wife Josephine have been attending the Delaware Grand Circuit for many years. “What a tremendous thrill it has been to watch horses we bred and sold win the Little Brown Jug.” Fourteen Hanover Shoe Farm-bred pacers have captured the Little Brown Jug, including Ensign Hanover, who won the inaugural in 1946.
Spears lives in Hanover, Pa., but also owns land in Orangeville, Pa., which has a creek for fly casting and a woods for deer hunting. He also served in the artillery in Europe during World War II from 1943-46. (LBJ)