Margaret Barrett Spradling, 84, of Orange, died peacefully at her home April 4.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 13, at First Presbyterian Church in Orange. Officiating will be the Rev. Mike Umbenhaur. The family is requesting a private burial. Visitation will be from 5:00-7:00 p.m., Tuesday, at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange.
Born in Charleston, WV, she was the only daughter of Edna and Clark Barrett. In her teens, her father was transferred to Orange, having been promoted to plant manager of E.I. DuPont. Her family instilled in her a strong sense of faith, a sense of duty to give back to her community and also the importance of education. Her father had been a PhD Chemist for DuPont, hired directly from college. Margaret graduated Valedictorian of her class at Lutcher Stark High School. It was there at Lutcher Stark that she met her future husband of 66 years, Hubert “Sprad” Spradling. She attended North Texas State University and then returned to Orange to work at Levingston Shipbuilding for many years while also raising their three children.
She did volunteer work with the Red Cross teaching swim lessons and lifeguard certification. It was there that she taught her husband to swim and soon after they decided to “try something adventurous” and went skiing. She quickly excelled, being very strong athletically. She participated in ski exhibitions and competitions in slalom, ski jumping and even barefoot water skiing. She was a featured exhibition water skier at the famous Cypress Gardens in Florida. For these accolades, she won numerous trophies and medals. She was the first woman in the world to barefoot water ski and was honored in the Cypress Gardens Hall of Fame. They soon helped form a performing ski troupe named “Aqua Demons and Debs”. She had her own exciting solo act, performing and entertaining thousand in the 50’s, 60’s and into the 70’s.
She supported the family business, Sprad’s Boat Town in the Pleasure Boating field for 60 years, initially as the bookkeeper, and then also stepping in to be the “boss” when needed. She was a strong spirited woman of many talents of which her husband lovingly took great pride in. Her deep love of travel took her on many journeys around the world. She hiked the Grand Canyon, back packed in Sequoia National Park and loved meeting many interesting people from all places. She loved planning trips to different countries and continents and having her family join her. She left few places unseen in her long list of “places to visit”.
She preferred to talk about other people’s accomplishments, yet bragging to no end about her beloved pet llama, Honeybuns. Honeybuns was a valentine’s gift from her husband and was their “grandchild” for 22 years. Her devotion to birds and nature was always in the forefront for her. She secretly put signs on large trees marked to be destroyed, that read “Save our tree, signed the birds”. It was one of her signs that was featured on the front page of several newspapers during a controversial development. She never took credit for this act of mischief, which she did in her late 70’s.
Her only regret in life was not working until her last days. She loved knowing any news of local businesses. Her last year was spent traveling to see family and friends. Her last birthday was spent riding full throttle in a small race boat with the wind blowing in her hair and a big smile on her face on her favorite bayou. She was a dignified, civilized woman who wanted everyone to follow their passions and her children deeply appreciate that she passed that on to them.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her only son, Stephen Spradling and brother, Eugene Barrett.
Margaret is survived by her husband, Sprad (Hubert) Spradling; daughters, Jessica Barrilleaux (Cyndi Spradling) and Shari Spradling; granddaughter, Jade Oliver; brother, John Barrett, of Provo, Ut. and her beloved pet llama of 21 years, Honeybuns.
Honorary pallbearers will be John Barett, Orville Spradling, David Spradling, Clay Dugas, Keble Free, Nolan LeBlanc and Clay Dugas.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Houston Audubon Society at 2101 5th St. High Island, TX 77623, the American Diabetes Association at P.O. Box 11454 Alexandria, VA 22312, or to PBS at 2100 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202.
The family wishes to express deep gratitude to all past employees and caregivers.