MIDDLEBURY — Richard Henry Sprano was born on May 18, 1929 to Mary (Lucian) and Edward A. Sprano, Sr. in Watertown.
As a child, he worked on farms in Watertown and Roxbury, where his of love of wildlife, animals and nature was born. He attended South School in Oakville, and Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington before joining the United States Marine Corps in 1951, where he served two years. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during the Korean War.
At the age of 18, he became a member of the bricklayers union in Waterbury and did construction on many area homes, churches, and public buildings throughout the city and environs.
Richard graduated from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, with a B.S. in zoology. He studied the sciences — chemistry, genetics, biology — at the University of Buffalo, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Connecticut. He received his M.S. in education and his teaching certification from Central Connecticut State University. For his entire career, he taught elementary and middle school in the Prospect Public School District, retiring after 35 years of service.
In 1966, he founded Connecticut’s first open-air, weekly antique show, The Tique Mart, and operated it through 1989. During that time, he published The Old Timer newspaper, which focused on Woodbury history and antiques collection and restoration.
Richard married the love of his life, Marie Zello, on Dec. 30, 1954. Together they raised a family of five children. He was a devoted father and husband, and throughout the years, he enjoyed a vibrant family life. He cultivated many avocations including maple sugaring; beekeeping; gardening; art collecting; painting; and antiques restoration. A lover of all things great and small, he raised chickens, and at various times kept goats, ducks, geese, a fox, a horse, cats and dogs as pets. He enjoyed preserving the fruits of his gardens, and took great pleasure in sharing his maple syrup, honey, canned tomatoes, peaches, pears, jellies and jams with friends and family.
While serving in the U.S. Marines, he committed and dedicated his life to Jesus Christ, and from that time on, he lived a life of faith and service to God. Richard was a member of the Community Bible Church in Terryville for more than 20 years, and was actively involved in church and community service throughout his life. In addition to laying bricks and mortar for the construction of many area churches, including Middlebury Baptist Church, he helped to build the church community, and served as trustee, deacon, and youth group director for many years. He also led outreach programs in local nursing homes and prison ministries.
In addition to Marie, his wife of 62 years, Richard is survived by his son, Mark S. Sprano and his wife, Elizabeth B. Sprano; his daughters, Martha Sprano-Levitt, Esther Sprano Seguin and her husband, Fredrick Seguin, Priscilla Sprano Wiles and her husband, Edward Wiles, and Rebekah Sprano; his 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; his brothers, Edward A. Sprano, Jr., and Alfred E. Sprano; his sister, Angela Sprano; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services will be on Friday, Sept. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 210 Church St., Naugatuck. Burial with military honors following in the Middlebury Cemetery. Arrangements by Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Paul’s House, Inc., 335 W. 51st St., New York, NY, 10019.