Russell Mason Spring Jr.
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Russell Mason Spring Jr.

Craftsbury - Russell Mason Spring Jr. of Craftsbury, Vermont passed away July 30th. Russell was born to Thelma and Russell Mason Sr. at his paternal grandparents house in Wellesley, MA. As the second Russell in the house he was given the apt nickname Sparky, which stuck with him all his life. Immediately upon graduating from Lenox high school he joined the Navy as WWII was drawing to a close. After returning from the service he went to Yale on the GI Bill and graduated in 1950. He made many wonderful friends there and kept in touch with them throughout his life.

After college Russell went to Austria working for the State Department's Bureau of Displaced Persons re-settling refugees. In Europe he rekindled his deep love for skiing and ice hockey, which he played into his eighties. In 1953 he returned to the United States to help care for his two younger siblings. He then moved to Stowe, VT and began his career as a ski instructor where he met a vivacious and lovely fellow instructor named Janet Lauderdale. It was love at first sight and they were married shortly thereafter.

By 1963 they had three children and Russell had given up ski instructing for a more lucrative career as a stockbroker for FI DuPont in Burlington. In 1972, feeling that Stowe had become too much of a resort for their taste, Russell and Janet moved the family to Craftsbury. They started two business ventures there. They helped turn a former riding camp into Windridge Tennis Camp, and then with the assistance of several old friends and investors, Russell and Janet set their sites on turning a defunct boy's school into a sports center. The Craftsbury Outdoor Center is a thriving enterprise today because of the foundation they laid with their vision, creativity, and sheer perseverance. Russell and Janet's love for nature as well as their avid enthusiasm for sports helped establish the Center as a destination for Nordic skiing, running and sculling - sports that put the participant in the natural environment.

Russell and Janet became valued members of the Craftsbury community as they raised their family there and became involved in town activities. Russell had great respect for local community members and often sought out their opinions.

It was important to Russell and Janet that local school children would have access to equipment and training in activities that would encourage lifelong fitness and recreation outdoors. Because of this they adopted the policy that no community member would be excluded from using the Outdoor Center for lack of funds. They created free programs for school children even during financially lean years at the Center.

Russell was a life long collector of books and rocks, both of which he generously shared with anyone who showed interest. Wherever he went he was always accompanied by one or two canine companions and often tossed treats out to every dog he encountered along the way.

In 2008, when Russell began suffering from the effects of Parkinson's related dementia, a decision was made to sell the Center. Russell and Janet remained in their beloved house on Little Hosmer Pond under the care of friends, family and several wonderful caregivers until Janet passed away on their 62nd anniversary in 2016. Russell then moved to The Manor care facility in Morrisville, VT where true to his nature, he continued to make many friends and touch many lives.

Predeceased by his brother Jim, he leaves behind his sister Debbie Spring Reed and her two daughters: his three children and their spouses; Russell and Dannielle Spring, Ellen Spring and Louis DuPont and Abigail Spring and Steve Lacey: his grandchildren; Eliza and Iris duPont, and Ezra, Lila, Jesse, Nate and Galen Spring and their mother Cindy Spring Burak: his step-grandsons Tyler and Hunter West, and a great grandson, August Fisher. He is also survived by his brother Jim's three children. Many wonderful friends and caregivers have helped Russell throughout his later years. The family extends their deepest thanks to them all especially his devoted Tara. A celebration of his life will be held in Craftsbury in the fall.

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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Aug. 10, 2018.
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2 entries
August 21, 2018
This man will never be forgotten!!
August 16, 2018
I will really miss this gentle man...lover of nature, birds, dogs, cats , books.....I recall house sitting when both he and his wife Janet would venture to the " other worlds" outside of these Vermont walls. Backbone of the travels to your new journey.
nita moccia
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