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The Other Side: A Story about Honor, Love & a Family Tradition

The Other Side: A Story about Honor, Love & a Family Tradition


Arleen Spence, also known as the Chicken Lady, has about a dozen chickens that she tends to on her property. Arleen was the subject of a student documentary by Betty Diaz, Director of Operations at ViacomCBS Veterans Network, during Betty's Multimedia Storytelling class at Syracuse University. What began as a story about chickens, transformed into a story about honor, love and a family tradition.

Arleen comes from a military family. Her father, Don Spence, was a Korean War Veteran. He served proudly in the Army. He had seven grandchildren who followed his footsteps in joining the military, many of whom are Marine Corps veterans, including Melanie Corinne from the ViacomCBS’ Veteran Immersion Program. Another connection to the military is Arleen’s birthday, which is on November 11th, Veterans Day. All four of her children, and her son in law all joined the service. Four of them Joined the Marines, and one joined the Army.

After the military, Don settled down and started an asphalting business where he also kept a small farm of many chickens among other animals. When asked if she bought her chickens for their eggs, Arleen said “I got the chickens because they make me happy, and they remind me of my dad.”

Shortly after Don’s passing, around Father’s Day and also Don’s Birthday, a chicken showed up in Arleen’s backyard. She knew then that it was a sign. She began the process of creating a coup to house her future chickens. Today she owns eleven chickens.

Watch the full interview HERE


In Loving Memory of Don Spence

Loving Husband, Father, Grandfather

June 21, 1929 – November 2, 2016