Obituary for Carol Van Alen Sprout
John and Carol Sprout Obituary
(By Ron and Jon Sprout, September 2017)
John and Carol Sprout died six weeks apart this past summer of 2017. John passed on July 9; Carol on August 17. He was 92 years old and she, 88. They had been married nearly 67 years. They were an extraordinary couple.
Carol’s high school senior yearbook described her as “Friendly, at home with figures – in math and on ice – in demand on the dance floor, all-around athlete, can play anything on the piano, dreams of being in the ‘Ice Follies’ but down to earth when there’s work to be done.” She was a member of the National Honor Society, played numerous sports, and was a cheerleader. Among the girls in her graduating class, she was voted “most versatile.”
John was literally born on the Peddie School campus in Kalomathia House. Peddie would become an intricate part of his life; his loyalty and links to the school substantial. As a Peddie student, John played varsity soccer, was editor of the Peddie News, and ranked number two in his graduating class. His father, Clinton Sprout, was a long-time English teacher and coach at Peddie. His mother, Louise, occasionally taught there as well. His brother, Robert, and two sons, Jon and Ron also attended Peddie.
John and Carol met at Bucknell University where each earned undergraduate degrees and he an M.A. in math. A high ranking student, Carol lived her senior year at Honor House. John was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and President of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Carol was a student in one of the classes John taught at Bucknell while he pursued his graduate work (and her).
After Bucknell, John served as an Ensign in the Navy, having attended officer training schools at Notre Dame, Yale, and Harvard. He served in The Pacific aboard the Heavy Cruiser USS Columbus during World War II as a code breaker. His tour of duty included visits to Japan and China at the end of the war.
John then went on to distinguish himself in a career of teaching high school math, starting at the Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ from 1950 to 1959, then on to Highland Park High School in New Brunswick, NJ for 18 years, and back to Peddie for another 14 years, retiring in 1991. John made a substantial difference in the lives of many students as evidenced in the sizeable network of former students who maintained contact with him through the years. As described in more than one sympathy card from former students, John and his teaching were “legendary.”
Carol had a successful and rewarding career as a teacher in the East Windsor, NJ public school system. Her compassion and patience won her many admiring co-teachers and administrators. Much of her creative energy early in married life, however, was devoted to her two boys, Jon and Ron. Largely by example, she taught them the significance of empathy, honesty, charity, and the importance of appreciating and enjoying life. She was unselfish to a fault. She was also a very talented and prolific painter; she started in oil paintings and later evolved to water colors, mostly landscapes. Some of her best work included pastoral scenes of the Adirondacks and the Sprout’s cherished cabin at Lake Clear.
John and Carol were great and loyal friends to many, for so long, including friends from Hightstown and Peddie, then later Rossmoor, Bradenton, and Cranbury Presbyterian Church. From a Florida friend, “John was fondly remembered for his great stories and jokes at our upstairs parties.” A young Hightstown neighbor remembers Carol as "adding grace and warmth to our childhood" and deserving “best neighbor award.” A Peddie board member remembers John for having “touched countless lives,” and a former student of John’s remembers him "faithful to his students and friends throughout his life."
They were a fun couple; he with his shy dry wit, and she with her outgoing sense of adventure. However, as family trumped all other aspects of life, their greatest gift may have been the secure and loving home they expertly co-created. Thanksgivings, Christmases, and summers in the Adirondacks were faithfully celebrated and shared with John’s brother Bob, and Carol’s sister, Nancy Taylor, her husband, John, and three children, Carol, David, and Alan. Later, family expanded to include spouses, significant others, and grandchildren of the extended clan, including Nicholas and Elizabeth Sprout (from Ron and wife Anne).
Memorial services for both John and Carol Sprout will be held at Cranbury Presbyterian Church, Cranbury, NJ on Saturday, October 14 at 11:00 a.m. and at The Peddie School Chapel, Hightstown, NJ on Saturday, November 18 at 12:00 noon.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Peddie School and/or the Cranbury Presbyterian Church.