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It is with deep sadness that the family of Dr. Donald F. Sprafke, 83, of Essex and Ludlow, Vermont, announce his passing Jan. 24. He died peacefully after a short illness.
He was the loving husband of the late Sarah Ellen Sprafke. Don was born in Meriden Nov. 4, 1937. He was the son of the late Francis and Beatrice “Stacey” Sprafke and stepson of Mildred Hazlet Sprafke of Meriden. He was predeceased by his brother Robert Sprafke and wife Betty of Wallingford.
Don was a graduate of Meriden High School and a 1959 graduate of Saint Michael’s College in Vermont and received his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., in 1963. He began his residency at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and then enlisted in the Navy and finished his residency in orthopedic surgery on the USS Albany and at the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego, California. Don and his family were then stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, where he was a member of the medical staff triaging wounded soldiers of the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Commander Sprafke M.D. was honorably discharged in 1971.
Following his naval career, he returned to Connecticut and private practice. He was a surgeon in the orthopedic department of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London until his retirement in 1999. During those years, he lent his time to various organizations among those being chairman of the Sports Medicine Committee of the Connecticut Medical Society as well as consulting for both the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) and the Coast Guard Academy.
Don and his wife enjoyed his retirement by traveling extensively. They also took great joy in hosting family and friends at their home in Vermont. He was an avid skier and passed the love of the outdoors to his appreciative family. When not in the mountains, he loved being on the water and had been a member of both the Thames Yacht Club in New London and later, the Corinthian Yacht Club in Essex.
Don will be sorely missed and is survived by his three daughters Katie O’Grady and her fiancé Adam Allam of Fairfield, Gretchen Sprafke and her husband John Piasecki of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Lisa Sullivan and her husband Jim of Manchester, Vermont; seven loving grandchildren; cousin Robert Pfeiffer of Somers; nieces, Ellen Casey and Patricia Tyaack; nephews Paul Sprafke and Francis Sprafke; and sister-in-law Mary Siborg and her husband Eric of Colchester.
Services will be private to protect the health of those who knew and loved Don. Please visit www.wallingfordfh.com to leave an online condolence. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lawrence + Memorial Benefactors Society at lmhospital.org.