Friday, July 10, 2015

Art Spranger

Remembering Arty – where do I begin?
What do you say about someone who has been a family friend for three generations of Wightmans, a loyal and trusted employee for over three decades and one of those “salt of the earth” men who are defined by three simple words – a good man.

It seems that I knew Arty all my life, from my childhood, through school, college, and adult years until he left us all to be in a better place.  I knew him when we pitched hay bales on the farm, when he came to our high school football games, when we all went out and got drunk the night before I got married, when my wife and I moved from our house in Oneonta to a new home, during our early years at Wightman Lumber when times were really tough, when my children were going to college, and on to his retirement years.

We covered a lot of time together and through all that time I always could count on Arty to be there to hold up his end of whatever we were doing.  I could rely on him to be honest and forthright which is something of a rarity in any day and age.  He wasn’t afraid to speak up and say what was on his mind.  While we didn’t always see eye to eye I always listened to what he said because he thought about what he was going to say before he said it, just like what a man is supposed to do. 

One of the attributes of Arty that I remember the most was his ability to face any situation he met in life straight on.  He approached his obligations to his family, his responsibilities at work, his patriotic duties as a citizen, and the final test of his own mortality, like a man.  He knew what was expected of him from his own code of honor and there was no backing down from his guiding principles.  On my last visit to him in the hospital a few days before he died, he knew what was most likely going to be his destiny and we talked about it at length.  There was no fear, no weakness of character, no emotional distress in him but rather a certainty that he was going to face this episode of life head on just like all the previous ones he had experienced – just like a good man should.                                                             - Dan Wightman 

A modified version of a stanza from the English writer and statesman Thomas Babington Macaulay’s (1800 – 1859) epic poem “Horatius at the Bridge”:
                                                Then out spake brave Horatius,
                                                The Captain of the Gate:
                                                To every man upon this earth
                                                Death cometh soon or late.
                                                And how can a man better die
                                                Living a long life of good acts
                                                With his head held high

                                                And his principles intact. 

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