04-13-17 Obituaries


Earl “Whitey” Louis Sprague of Weslaco, Texas, formerly of Watervliet, died at the age of 90 on December 15, 2016 at Aurora House Hospice Center in Weslaco. He was born on April 16, 1926 in Coloma to the late Arthur and Marie (Pinyard) Sprague.

The family moved to Watervliet in 1927 after his 5-year-old brother, Rex, was killed by a car. After graduating from Watervliet High School in 1944, he joined the Army Air Corps and served his country until 1946. While on a weekend pass in Lincoln, Nebraska, he met Helen Marie Gaulke. They were married three months later on October 27, 1945 and were together until Helen’s death in 1998.

Whitey sold roofing and insulation, learned to butcher, and wound up in procurement at Clark Equipment Co. until he bought the small grocery store known as Pfansteihl’s in 1958. The small store was replaced by a much larger store, and Sprague’s Grocery took off, becoming famous all over for their fine cuts of meat.

Whitey and Helen raised the first four of their six children on Paw Paw Lake, and then moved to the old Frank Smith home on Paw Paw Avenue in 1958 to make room for the last two boys. All six kids worked at the store during their youth and young adulthood. After selling the store in 1980, Whitey became a realtor with Rudell Real Estate in Hartford until he and Helen decided to retire to Fun-n-Sun Park in San Benito, Texas in 1987.

After Helen’s death, Whitey met Elinor Silsdorf at a Financial Planning Seminar in 1999. They started dating and Whitey met a whole new group of people who became his close friends. He and Elinor were together until her death in 2014.

Whitey’s four brothers and their wives preceded him in death: Robert and Lorraine (Porter), Rex, Gerald and Midge (Soper), and Jack and Celia (Zabia); and sisters-in-law and their husbands: Louise (John) Sullivan and Lorraine (Leslie) Knop. He is survived by his six children: Richard and Marilyn (Weeks) Sprague, Deborah Sprague Kipp, Katherine Sprague, Jeffrey and Valerie (Groff) Sprague, John and Wendy (Hendrix) Sprague, and Robert Sprague; nine grandchildren: Stephanie (Andrew) Jones and Shanna (Kurt) Hoerman; Rebecca (Andy) Caspersen, Justin (Liz) Kipp, and Brian (Amanda) Kipp; Elizabeth (Jon) Ardan, Bradley Sprague, Tyler (Fatemah) Sprague, and Kyle Sprague; 14 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Whitey had been a long-time member of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Watervliet, where he taught Sunday school, and served as deacon and trustee for many years. He became a member of the American Legion in the early 1950s, the Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star in 1955, Lion’s Club in 1959 and the Watervliet Jaycees.

Known for his friendly, caring, loving, up-beat and positive nature, Whitey made friends wherever he went. He loved to travel and meet people and was a natural at sports. In high school he played football and basketball and later played intramural basketball, where he loved to use his left hook and wear his black converse shoes from his high school days. While living on the lake, he enjoyed water skiing, boating and fishing, and was an avid golfer until the age of 89.  A memorial service to celebrate Whitey’s life will be on Saturday, April 15 at 10:00 a.m. at Hutchins Funeral Home in Watervliet. Visitation and fellowship will follow immediately after the service. You are invited to share a memory of Whitey at hutchinsfuneral.com In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Gentiva Hospice Harlingen, 410 N. Ed Carey Dr., Harlingen, TX 78550, or to the charity of your choice.


 Eleanor Larsen, 96, of St. Joseph, passed away Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at the home where she had lived for seventy years.

Eleanor “Ellie” was born January 6, 1921, to Joseph and Augusta (Feifer) Gustaitis in Chicago, IL. After growing up poor in Chicago, an ego trip for her was attaining the position of Assistant Editor for Industry Power Magazine on Navy Pier. Upon moving to St. Joseph, she worked in Whirlpool’s Purchasing Department for 30 years, retiring from there. Ellie considered raising two children as a single mother her greatest accomplishment. Her other loves were yoga, golf, volunteering, and creating beautiful gardens in her own yard.

Ellie is survived by her daughter, Carole (David) Van Antwerp; three grandchildren, Chad Olmsted of San Diego, CA, Jack Van Antwerp, D. Paul (Jenny Grove) Van Antwerp; special friends Sandy (Les) Page and Lori Mizwicki, as well as her beloved Cocker Spaniel, Sandi. She was preceded in death by her parents and son Robert “Bob” Larsen.