It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of William (Bill) Sprague on June 27, 2023. Bill passed away exactly as he wanted - at home and surrounded by his loving family, after a long battle with CANVAS syndrome, a condition that may have taken his body but never his mind or spirit.
Predeceased by his parents Fred and Mary (née Wallbridge) Sprague and brother Stewart Sprague, Bill will be deeply missed by his loving wife of over 53 years, Geraldine (née Stokes); children: Emily (Peter Angel), Anna (Dominik Splistisser) and David (Melanie Sprague); grandchildren: Marina Angel (Nick Good), Lewis Angel, Benjamin and Jonathan Sprague; and his many nieces, nephews, friends, cousins, in-laws and colleagues in Newfoundland and Ontario.
Born on Dec. 29, 1941, in Belleville, Ont., Bill's childhood was spent sailing the waters of the Bay of Quinte and enjoying time with friends and family at the cottage in Prince Edward County. After graduating from BCI in 1960, he moved to Halifax, N.S., to study Paediatric Medicine at Dalhousie University where he received his M.D. (1967). Fate, and a calling, brought him to the island of Newfoundland to complete his pediatric rotation, and it was there he met the love of his life, Geraldine. The two were married in St. John's on Aug. 23, 1969, and Bill was embraced by his new (very large!) East Coast family. He fell in love with the island and its people. It was often said that even as a 'come-from-away,' he knew more Newfoundland expressions than the Newfoundland dictionary.
Bill enjoyed a 40-year career as a pediatrician at the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's, and later at the Hotel Dieu and KGH in Kingston, Ont. During this time, he also served as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at both Memorial University and Queen's. His contributions to the field of medicine spanned both patient care and the training of future doctors. Bill played an integral role in the modernization of neonatal care in the early days of the Janeway Hospital and will be fondly remembered for his unique hands-on approach to pediatrics. Whether he was engaging through play, pop culture or using his knack for Yoda and Grover impressions, Bill had a way of connecting with young people on their level, as he felt it was a privilege to serve them.
Even as a busy physician, Bill always made his family a priority. He officiated at swim meets, taught Sunday school, volunteered as a scout leader and was a kid magnet at all family gatherings (despite his assertion that he was "not a playground attendant"). Bill had a very special place in his heart for his four grandchildren and took great pride in their accomplishments.
Bill's family would like to express their thanks and appreciation to the staff at the Belleville General Hospital (Quinte 5), especially Dr. Jennifer Gartshore and Sherry Weese for their kindness and support. A special thank you to Dr. Chuck Hobeika, his friend and medical partner of 23 years, for his enduring support; and to Frank Hamper, for his friendship and spiritual council.
Donations in Bill's memory may be made to the Brain Canada Foundation or a charity of your choice. To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Sprague, please visit our floral store.
"Long may your big jib draw."