hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 21, 2013

Spurling -- a life of ups and downs

As a corporate lawyer, Dennis Spurling is building quite a case for himself, not necessarily in his chosen field.

The 67-year-old city attorney is in the process of climbing — are you ready for this — 700 of the tallest peaks in New England. He’s already scaled about half of them and talks about his conquests the way a Sir Edmund Hillary might describe his climb to the top Mount Everest. With bravado!

In some ways, Spurling is the Edmund Hillary of this region, and few would argue that.

All this while beating cancer and overcoming a heart attack that could have killed him. It was that close twice. Death came calling and he answered the Grim Reaper wisely, “See you on the mountains, if you dare.”

A visit to his office at 67 Wingate St. reveals the obvious. The art work you find on his walls is Rembrandt in his eyes. Pictures of mountains he’s conquered. They serve as a continued reminder to keep climbing.

His classic line speaks for itself: “Faith may move mountains. But it takes work to tunnel them.”

Spurling is a Haverhill native. You’ll have to excuse him for moving to Atkinson with Susan, his wife of 43 years. But their two adult children, Eric and Dan, still call Haverhill their home, along with grandson Sawyer. So he’s off the hook.

Spurling’s outside education included Northern Essex Community College, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Suffolk University School of Law.

As of February, he’s been practicing law here for 40 years. He’ll tell you about the time he gave legal advice to a young man starting a food product business in Haverhill and now sells his products nationwide.

All it took was a trip to the YMCA in his late 20s. Spurling enrolled in Lucinda Wentworth’s noontime class and got addicted to exercise. He started running at Winnekenni Park and soon began hiking with the Appalachian Mountain Club.

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