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Longtime Scientologist Jim Jackson remembers Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014

Jim Jackson

Jim Jackson

We’re still hearing from people about Lyman Spurlock, the longtime Scientology executive who died last month of throat cancer. And in particular we received a truly remarkable remembrance from someone who has never spoken publicly about his time in the organization. Jim Jackson is an attorney and certified public accountant in Los Angeles.

I first met Lyman Spurlock in 1971 as his “Hard TR’s Supervisor” at the Berkeley Mission. Since we were both CPA’s, he later hired me in 1974 to work for him in his tax practice in Los Angeles.

I was Lyman’s only employee, and we both loved Scientology. I was somewhat in awe of him, as not only was he a very competent CPA, but he was also a Class 8 auditor, while I was a mere Class 4 at the time and still somewhat of an apprentice CPA. We would occasionally talk about Scientology and at times natter about the Guardian Office. I recall in 1974 the Church lost a Tax Court case over the issue of the deductibility of Scientology as a medical expense (the Donald H. Brown case in Minnesota if I recall). Lyman wrote a critical letter to the GO about it and got into some trouble for his criticisms. Lyman and I used to joke about the “GO Service Fac” ( a Scientology term for being unable to admit that one is wrong).

At the time, Scientology donations were still not deductible, and Lyman and I would scheme about how to deduct Scientology on tax returns and get away with it without the IRS noticing.

Lyman was always very practical and down to earth, and I recall how shocked I was in 1977 when he told me he was joining the Sea Org with some other Berkeley friends of ours to work with L. Ron Hubbard up at Int Base. One reason he gave me for joining the SO was that he was “tired of living life at only a quarter throttle.” I knew the Sea Org was not for me, if only because I hated schedules, not to mention monastic lifestyles.


So, off he went in 1977 to Int, and I inherited most of his CPA practice which some months later in December, 1977 became part of Greenberg & Jackson when I formed that partnership with Marty Greenberg.

I maintained communication with Lyman in his early Sea Org years. I recall vividly one day in the fall of 1978 when he was at my house in Studio City where he had stored some of his records in my garage. At the time I was very upset over the loss of a girlfriend. I had been barely sleeping and eating for months. After telling me I was suffering from a “long overdue motivator” (Scientology parlance for “getting what one deserved”), he told me that LRH was about to release a brand new auditing rundown, which a couple months later turned about to be Ned for OT’s (NOTS, as it is called). When NOTS came out in December, 1978, I immediately rushed to Flag and got the auditing. NOTS completely fixed my upset about the girl within a week, and I was never the same again.

Later in the early 1980’s when I became L Ron Hubbard’s CPA and tax preparer, Lyman was my senior at Author Services. I recall one day he showed me a photo ID card with his picture imprinted on it with the caption “Trusted Person.” He said it meant something to the effect that LRH trusted him, and that very few people had such an ID card. I was very impressed. I wished I had such a badge.

After LRH’s death I never saw Lyman again, although I did correspond with him once in 2006 to get his feedback on some “ethics handlings” I had been doing on Scientology public that the Church ethics officers felt I was squirreling with. Lyman wrote back and basically gave me his stamp of approval, which pleased me and afforded me some protection from ethics.

In these final years I had a fantasy that if only I could reach Lyman that perhaps I could ally with him once again to finally reform the Church and actually follow the corporate checks and balances that Lyman helped design before LRH’s death to prevent the kind of insidious dictatorial control we have now that is so counter to LRH’s intent.

That fantasy died the other day.

I am now reminded of the scene from the 1986 Rob Reiner film Stand By Me, when Richard Dreyfuss is reading a newspaper clipping about his close childhood friend from twenty years earlier suddenly dying when the friend tried to intercede in a fight between two strangers in a fast food restaurant. The years had gone by without any contact, but Dreyfuss still felt very close.

Dreyfuss was very sad at the end of that very poignant movie. I am grieving now myself, not only for the loss of Lyman, but for the hopes and dreams that we all held so dear in those early Scientology years.

James J Jackson
Attorney at Law
Certified Public Accountant
Los Angeles, California


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 9, 2014 at 07:00

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UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48

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