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Harold Spratt


1928 - 2019
Harold Spratt Obituary
Harold Anthony Spratt
Harold Anthony Spratt, known to family and friends as a force of nature, died peacefully at home on Saturday evening, May 25. He was ninety.
Mr. Spratt was born on September 17, 1928, in Darlington, an industrial town in the far northeast of England. With World War II raging and his parents unable to afford the cost of books, he had to leave school at the age of fourteen. While working full-time during the day, eventually at the auditing firm of Peat Marwick Mitchell, he attended night and correspondence schools.
In 1946, he met a fellow night school student, Cora Brown. They spent a long courtship, as they called it, cycling across the Yorkshire moors and over the Pennines into the Lake District. A mentor warned Mr. Spratt that marriage would mean he'd never get beyond a low-level position at the firm. Following his own instincts, a lifelong trait, he married Cora in 1952. The warning about his career was repeated with greater gravity when the Spratts had their first son, Adrian in 1954. The couple had their second and only other child, Martin, in 1956.
Mr. Spratt qualified as a chartered accountant, the England and Wales equivalent of the American certified public accountant, in 1955. His hard-earned title remained a source of pride for the rest of his life.
In 1958, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) hired him at their UK headquarters in London, far away from his close-knit family. In Darlington, he was known as Tony, to avoid confusion with his father, also named Harold. But in London and everywhere else in the world from then on, he was Harold.
Mr. Spratt steadily rose through Union Carbide's ranks, being appointed in 1964 to a managerial position at British Acheson Electrodes, UCC's subsidiary in Sheffield, England, and in 1967 to UCC's Carbon Products Division at the New York City world headquarters. In April, 1968, the family settled in Darien, CT. Nine years later, with son Adrian at law school and son Martin embarked on a career in construction, Mr. Spratt and his wife moved to Ridgefield.
In 1982, Mr. Spratt was assigned to South Africa, where he and his wife lived in Sandton, a suburb of Johannesburg. In addition to his analytical skills, Mr. Spratt demonstrated a facility for dealing with local bureaucracies and ameliorating labor conditions. The couple traveled extensively around the region, accumulating a fund of stories about crocodile farms and maneuvering around antelope and cows on South Africa's long roads. The Spratts retained their Ridgefield house throughout their South African years, and returned there in the spring of 1984.
Another transforming event in Mr. Spratt's career occurred in 1986, when he joined William Beattie and seven other colleagues to create a new company, Strategic Minerals Corporation (Stratcor), from two divisions of Union Carbide. Stratcor's focus was the mining, production and marketing of vanadium alloys for the world wide steelmaking industry. Headquartered in Danbury, Stratcor was the largest worldwide producer of vanadium alloys at its facilities in South Africa and the U.S.
Mr. Spratt was Stratcor's treasurer until his retirement, and he remained on the firm's board until it's 2006 sale to the Russian steelmaker, Evraz.
Beginning in the 1990s, Mr. Spratt became deeply involved in charitable activities. A member of the boards of the Danbury Hospital and Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO), he funded several chairs and programs at the hospital and sponsored a number of RSO concerts. He also made significant contributions of money and expertise to the Ridgefield Volunteer Nurses Association, the Center for Comfort Care, the Danbury Women's Center, United Way, the Jericho Partnership, and many other organizations.
Beyond his financial support and professional advice, Mr. Spratt was loved and admired for his warm personality and unbridled energy. Mr. Beattie remarked: "Harold's impact on our community has been significant and will continue for years to come. He was a fine individual and good friend and I will really miss him."
Cora Spratt died in 2002, leaving Mr. Spratt with an enduring sadness. In 2006, he married Myra French, a friend from his Darlington days. She died in 2016. Mr. Spratt stayed in close touch with her son, Paul.
On March 23 of this year, the day after pancreatic cancer was detected, Mr. Spratt kept a prior commitment and flew to Florida to spend the week with a close friend. Once chemo commenced, Mr. Spratt's son, Martin, flew from Oregon to care full-time for him during his last six weeks, as his friend Karen had driven up from North Carolina to be with Dad the week before. Son Adrian and his wife, Laura, regularly came up from Brooklyn to be at Mr. Spratt's side. All the while, friends streamed to visit him. Eventually pneumonia deprived him of speech, and he could communicate only with gestures. Yet even into what proved to be his last morning, he gave everyone his heartwarming broad smile.
Mr. Spratt never lost his affection for the home and neighborhood of his boyhood. His mother, whose no-nonsense, ethical character strongly influenced her three sons and their children, lived in that house until she died in 1993, at the age of 88. Recalling its address during his own last days, Mr. Spratt quietly marveled that he'd "come a long way from Surtees Street."
Mr. Spratt is survived by his two sons and his grandson, Martin's son, Justin.
A memorial service will be held at the Community Center—Lounsbury House, in Ridgefield, at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the .
Published in The Ridgefield Press on June 6, 2019
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