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OK, I have found what solved the problem for me..

Under Tools->Options->Language Settings:Writing Aids, the list of available language modules showed almost everything set. I unchecked and then re-checked "Hunspell SpellChecker" and "Libhyphen Hyphenator" and hit OK. (I strongly suspect that the hunspell was the significant checkbox). Then, when I go back to Language and look at the default language settings, the "English (USA)" entry has the ABC✔ by it, and now spell checking is working.

Best guess is that some results of invoking something from hunspell is saved by libreoffice and that with updating versions, the cached output is no longer valid. Re-invoking (when re-checking the checkbox) refreshes the cached data and now everything is all better.