SPERRY LEA

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LEA SPERRY LEA Sperry Lea died on December 6, 2012 at his home in Washington, DC. He was 89 years old. Born to Helen Sperry Lea and Robert Brooke Lea, Sperry (known to some as "Skip" or "Buz") spent his youth in Brooklyn Heights, Lake Success, and Bellport, NY. He was the grandson of Elmer A. Sperry and nephew of Lawrence Sperry, noted inventors and aviators of their time. He is survived by his wife, Anna L. Lea, daughter Helena Lea-Bastille, son R. Brooke Lea, and grandson Jackson S. Lea. Sperry attended the Choate School in Connecticut. He obtained an undergraduate degree in philosophy at Haverford College where he won several poetry prizes. He also composed music for modern dance recitals at Bryn Mawr College. He received his master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Hired under the Truman Doctrine, Sperry was stationed in Athens, Greece in the early 1950s. There he met his future wife, Anna Lambrinidou, who worked as a translator. Smitten by her irresistible personality, Sperry decided one day to visit her parents' house to ask her out. He appeared at the Lambrinidou front door wearing a shepherd's hat and jeans, a look that Anna's mother did not find promising. Her attitude toward Sperry quickly softened, however, as he conversed with her in fluent French, tickled the family ivories with delightful ease, and charmed all with his humor and gentle spirit. The couple were married in 1955, and settled in Washington, DC. Sperry spent most of his career in DC working for the National Planning Association, where he conducted research on the economic relations between the US and Canada, and the US and the UK. Upon his retirement, he devoted much of his time to philanthropic causes in the DC area, particularly those involving inner-city youth and the arts. His Quaker sensibilities informed his commitment to peace, and the importance of seeing good in everyone. Sperry was an inspiration to all those he touched. He graced his wife with an uncanny ability to remain, as she saw it, "cool, calm, and collected" during even the most trying times, and to anticipate silver linings; Sperry inspired his daughter to follow her passion in whatever she does, and that one should never be "owned by one's possessions"; he impressed upon his son the simple value of kindness, and the more complex importance of blending rationality with beauty; to his grandson, Sperry represented a delightful mix of wisdom, humor, and innocence. He taught us all the magic of music, the ocean, and the gift of helping others. He is and will always be greatly missed. A private burial is planned for immediate family at a later date. A private burial is planned for immediate family at a later date.

Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 6, 2013
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