A funeral service is scheduled for Saturday, May 31, at Falls Church’s Dulin United Methodist Church for long-time City resident civic activist Stephen Sprague, 69, who died at the Northern Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington last Saturday night after a short illness.
The service will be held at 1 p.m., followed by a burial and reception for his friends at his home hosted by the lone surviving member of his immediate family, Rob Sprague, his wife, Hayley Adams Sprague and their child Elizabeth Amber Sprague.
A viewing will be held on Friday, May 30, at Murphy’s Funeral Home in Falls Church, from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.
Sprague was treasurer of the Falls Church Citizens for a Better City (CBC), served on the City’s Housing Commission and the Falls Church Education Foundation. He was the recipient of the CBC’s highest annual honor, the Wayne and Jane Dexter Award in 2011. Falls Church City Manager Wyatt Shields, when notified of Sprague’s death by his pastor, the Rev. Davies Kirkland of the Dulin Church, responded by email saying Sprague “has given so much and is a wonderful person.”
Sprague was preceded in death by his daughter, Beth, a 1997 graduate of George Mason High School who died in her sleep while attending West Virginia University in March 2000, and his wife, Nancy F. Sprague, who was the chief academic officer for the Fairfax County School System when she also died in her sleep in November 2003 at the family’s Falls Church home.
Sprague set up and funded various scholarship and awards in both Fairfax County and Falls Church, including one bestowed annually to a deserving student at George Mason High School honoring the memory of daughter Beth, who was very active and well-liked as a student at George Mason. He was active at the Dulin Church, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to adult students.
Sprague was born July 27, 1944 in Gouverneur, New York to parents Ward (now deceased) and Lena, age 94. After graduating high school in Gouverneur, he attended Syracuse University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree. He went on to the University of Michigan where he earned a Master in Public Administration degree, and met Nancy, whom he married in 1969 after a 1968 stint with the Peace Corps in Guatemala.
He and Nancy then moved to Northern Virginia where he began working for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He retired in 2003 as a director after serving there for 33 years.
Son Robert Sprague was born in 1976, and daughter Elizabeth Sprague in 1978. The family moved to the City of Falls Church in 1980. Following the deaths of Elizabeth (2000) and Nancy (2003), son Rob married Hayley Adams Sprague in 2006 and the couple gave birth to Elizabeth (Elllie) Amber Sprague in 2009 in Rehoboth Beach.
According to son Rob, Sprague enjoyed traveling to visit friends and family. He especially enjoyed playing with his granddaughter Ellie, was an avid card player and loved bridge and poker. Family, faith, friends and community were what he cherished most.