Spencer Huntington Nitchie of Baltimore died on Friday, August 6 after a short illness. He was 57.

He was a musician, father, husband, brother, son and loving friend to many. He was widely known as an exponent of Maryland’s Irish traditional music community, and was respected for his expertise on the tenor banjo, Irish flute, fiddle, concertina and guitar.

Spencer was born on Martha’s Vineyard on Dec. 17, 1963, the youngest of three children. His parents, Hubbard and Nancy Nitchie, worked as teachers in Annapolis. For many years, they published Banjo Newsletter, a monthly magazine covering all aspects of the five-string banjo.

He grew up in Annapolis and spent summers in Chilmark. As a teenager, he learned to play the flute, guitar and five-string banjo. He worked at Poole’s Fish Market and later learned carpentry skills from Island craftsmen, skills that he continued to hone throughout his life.

In 1984, after attending Towson State College, Spencer traveled to Europe with his guitar. He played music on the streets of London, Paris, Nice, Florence, Athens and other cities, learning languages as he traveled.

He returned to the States with Silvia Breida of Revigliasco, Italy. The couple soon had a daughter, Sofia Huntington Nitchie, who was born while they were living on Martha’s Vineyard.

When Silvia died in 1990, Spencer proudly took on the role of single parent to his spirited daughter. For many years, he received both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day cards, hand-made by Sofia.

After Hub Nitchie’s death in 1992, Spencer and his older brother Donald carried on Banjo Newsletter. They increased its subscribership and developed digital content that paralleled the paper magazine that Spencer published from his home office in Eastport, Md. As publisher, Spencer was the organizing force for circulation and mailing. He became a resource to subscribers, diligently responding to their queries: he was the voice on the phone.

He fell in love with Irish traditional music in the 1990s. He adapted his familiarity with the five-string banjo to the tenor banjo, and amassed a seemingly endless repertoire of jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas, slides, marches, slip jigs and barn dances. He had a gift for variation and was astute enough to learn a melody after hearing it only a few times.

For many years, he graced Irish traditional music sessions in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. His greatest contribution was made in Annapolis, where he hosted sessions at Sean Donnellan’s, Fadó, Castlebay and, most recently, Galway Bay.

For the past 11 years, Spencer had the joy of a loving partnership with Tara Boyle. They joined hearts and families at a lovely wedding on the Vineyard in 2018.

On the evening after his death, he was mourned by notable Irish traditional musicians at the Baltimore home he shared with Tara. Another musical event occurred a few days later at Galway Bay in Annapolis, where friends gathered to recall cherished memories of Spencer, his musicianship, and his good character. A memorial celebration is planned for a future date.

Spencer is survived by his mother, Nancy Nitchie of Oak Bluffs; his aunt Jane Huntington of Parkville, Md.; his wife Tara Boyle of Lauraville, Md.; his daughter Sofia Nitchie of Madison, Wis.; his step-daughter, Maeve Boyle of Ardmore, Pa.; brother Donald Nitchie and his wife Elizabeth Parker Nitchie of Chilmark and their sons, Nigel Smith, and his wife Danielle, of Forestdale, and Tucker Smith and his daughter Annie of West Tisbury; and sister Emily Meegan and her husband Billy Meegan, and their children Jake and Delilah Meegan, all of Chilmark.

He is also survived by the musicians in whom he invested the gifts of his genius and his warm friendship.