Spencer Thomas Gernon

Spencer Gernon - Greece, NY - Rochester Cremation

Greece, NY: Spencer Thomas Gernon, “Spencer the Brave”, beloved son and brother, slipped into the next world on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, ending his 4 year struggle with brain cancer. He was 15 years old, far too young.

Spencer reveled in excitement and thrills and would happily spend half the day at Seabreeze Amusement Park just riding the Jack Rabbit roller coaster over and over. He loved expressing himself creatively, through drawing, cartooning, writing, and designing levels for user-created video games like Little Big Planet and Super Mario Maker. He cared deeply about animals, the natural world, and the environment, and always liked taking nature walks and watching the ecosystem of his back yard. Since his diagnosis in 2016, he was also passionate about chronicling his cancer journey through photos on Instagram.

Spencer was one of Golisano Children’s Hospital’s 2018 Miracle Kids. Throughout his difficult cancer symptoms and treatments, his relentlessly positive attitude, thoughtful insight, and sincere compassion touched the hearts of everyone he spent time with, particularly his extensive care team of doctors, nurses, and other professionals at Golisano. As his oncologist, Carol Fries Simpson, MD, said: “He is just the most amazing, inspiring kid. He’s charmed his entire care team with his positive energy, resilience, and heartfelt bravery. We all have learned so much from him.”

Spencer is survived by his parents, Heather Downey-Gernon and Christopher Gernon, and his “Wonder Brother”, Bryce Gernon, who love him forever and always.

In December 2019, Make-A-Wish Foundation gifted Spencer a teen disco lounge, with a disco ball, lights, and flashy decor. It was at home in this lounge that Spencer drew his last breaths, under the quietly spinning disco lights, surrounded by the love and compassion of his family, cats, and medical care team.

Virtual services have not been scheduled yet. Announcements to family and friends will be forthcoming.

In place of gifts or flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Spencer’s honor to any of the wonderful organizations that helped him along the way:
– Golisano Children’s Hospital (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/childrens-hospital)
– Make-A-Wish Foundation, Metro New York and Western New York Chapter (https://wish.org/newyork)
– C. U. R. E. Childhood Cancer Association (https://www.curekidscancer.com)
– Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation (http://www.curethekids.org)
– The Pirate Toy Fund (https://piratetoyfund.org)

10 Condolences

  1. Matthew Byrnes on January 4, 2021 at 1:34 pm


    My wife and I were so sad to hear about Spencer’s passing. I had talked about Spencer’s struggle with her previously and kept her up to date always hoping that his condition would continue to get better. Spencer could not have asked for a better father and family. The way you talked about him was always heart warming. Spencer sounded like such a brave little man…

    If there is anything that I (or Datto) can do for your or your family don’t hesitate to ask.

    Sending you positive thoughts in this tough time.

    -Matt & Michelle Byrnes

  2. Sharon Malfesi on January 4, 2021 at 2:11 pm


    There is nothing I can say to ease the pain of losing your son far too soon. Spencer was such a wonderful soul, and I loved following his adventures from afar. He was a fighter; a true hero to those of us who share similar interests and passions as he did. Liz and I have been keeping all of you in our thoughts during this difficult time.

    Spencer was so fortunate to have such a loving and supportive family. May he rest in power and peace, and continue to shed his light on us all in the days to come.


    Sharon & Liz

  3. Aunt Judy and Family on January 4, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    Yep. This sure does describe Spencer the Brave!! What a special child! His whole family is special. What they and his medical staff went thru to make sure he had the best care and quality of life & love is remarkable!!
    I have a feeling that his cat misses him as much as we do.
    Big far away hugs J,P,C,B + Duncan

  4. Lynne Sosnowski on January 4, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Chris, Heather and Bryce,

    You all did a great job of creating a beautiful tribute – trying to put enormous feelings on a small page can’t have been easy. I have wishes for you that are hard to express – gentleness, ease, anger sometimes, patience – but among them is not a whisper of regret. You made your boy a loving home, gave him solid guidance, and offered all that your soul and your hands had to offer in a world that doesn’t operate with fairness. The massive weight of this grief will get easier to carry. I hope in time this wound scars over – evidence always of the giant rent to your heart, it will ache on rainy days or maybe sunny, you will put your hand to it and recall all, some days in fury and always in love.

  5. The Overfield Family on January 4, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    To the Gernon family – you all captured sweet Spencer so perfectly with this beautiful tribute. As I read it, I wondered how my heart can be heavy and happy at the same time. Thank you all for sharing Spencer’s difficult and very unfair journey with many who came to love him and his brave outlook despite his struggles. He was the most remarkable boy and has left a profound impact on our family even though we never personally met him face to face. We can only imagine how he moved those on his medical team, Make A Wish, CURE and his inner circle along the way. Spencer certainly left this world a better place and we are all better for having known him through each of you. Our family extends peace-filled thoughts to all of you as you navigate the days, weeks and months to come without Spencer. He will most certainly live on inside each of you going forward, although that is likely little consolation for your heartbreak at this time. Sending virtual hugs to all of you, including Marigold <3 <3 <3 With love, The Overfield Family

  6. The Karakashian Family on January 4, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    We are thinking of you all and holding you tightly in our hearts. Spencer was such a special kid with a huge heart and bravery most adults don’t possess. Much love to you at this difficult time.

  7. Chloë on January 5, 2021 at 2:26 am

    Spencer is a lovely soul. I’m happy that in some small way I have been able to be apart of Spencer’s journey through your pictures and writing, from states away. The positivity, love and strength you have portrayed as a family has given me new perspectives on life for myself and for my children. You all will continue to be in my thoughts and emotions, wishing you peace and comfort in time. I love you Spencer ❤️ I love you all.

  8. Aprille on January 5, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Much love to all of you through all of this. I feel blessed to have gotten to know Spencer even a bit through your stories. Cherish and celebrate those stories. I know that the road ahead will be difficult, but he will be with you in spirit.

  9. Shannon Lyaski on January 7, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Dear Heather, Chris, Bryce,

    In the short time I spent visiting Spencer and you guys, I felt deep in my bones what a loving family you are. I have never been in the house of a family that so strongly had their own universe of living the way you do. I felt it the way you feel warmth from a fireplace. Spencer felt free and comfortable to express himself and say what was on his mind, to an adult visitor as a kid at age 11… in many houses the kids do not feel like they can speak their minds without being ridiculed or discouraged. Mostly I remember Spencer’s appreciation and love of life. And how he loves you with all his heart and soul, and how you love him so well. Not all families can say that. . I’m heartbroken for you guys that he has passed into the next world. Know that you are not alone.

  10. Gramma Marie on January 9, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Spencer was an angel among us in the true sense of the word. His thumbs-up attitude brought a message of hope and determination to all who had the privilege of crossing paths with him. He radiated pure joy, whether swinging at the playground or creating a contest to choose the color of his wheelchair. He was hopeful in the triumphs and he was the one who was quick to encourage and comfort his family in the setbacks. Spencer clearly had a richer life in 15 years than most people who live to be grey-headed. His influence will not die. I love you Chris, Heather, Bryce and Spencer.

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