Walter M. Sperl

Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Juneau resident Walter M. Sperl died May 12, 2010. He was 93.

Born April 8, 1917, to Martha and Erwin Sperl in Portland, Ore., he graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School and then worked as a machinist and tool/die maker in the Bremerton, Wash. shipyards until the end of World War II. He and his young bride, Clara Lutz, moved to Juneau in 1946, where Walt worked for Northern Commercial Company until taking over the mail-run on the Yakobi.

As he delivered mailalong the Alexander route, it paralleled how he touched so many along life's journey. Always sharing a spiritual lift, a favorite hymn, a recent book, or a recent sermon, Walt had a way of engaging those who heard ... making them wonder what more this amazing pioneer had tucked away. He thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor bounty Alaska offerred, including hunting, fishing and boating. He excelled as engineer on the first AMHS ferry, the Matanuska, in 1963, and moved up to help design the M/V LeConte, on which he retired as chief engineer in 1984.

After retiring, Walter had even more time for his unerring faith in God; opening his home to family, friends, ministers, and strangers alike. Well-read in many subjects, he was "at home" with the radio on and a newspaper and coffee in hand. He wrote letters of encouragement to many from his easy-chair, and loved his "sweetums," with all his heart. He continued to love this great land and was often heard saying, "When God made the world, he lingered a bit longer in Alaska."

Walter was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Conrad and Harry; and son, Donald Walter Sperl.

He is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Clara Sperl of Juneau; sister, Anita Stogstill of Greshem, Ore.; children David (Ann) Sperl of Othello, Wash., Dennis Sperl of Petersburg, and Moretta (Keil) Rieger of Juneau; grandchildren, Jay (Nancy) Sperl of Prosser, of Wash., Jim (Melody) Sperl of Misawa, Japan, Jon (Sandra) Sperl of Pendleton, Ore., Tammie Sperl, Tanya (Dale) Young of Sammamish, Wash., Donald (Tausha) Sperl of Petersburg, Traci (Greg) Graziano of Eugene, Ore., Emilie Sperl of Friday Harbor, Wash., Kyla (Steve) Birnbaum of Sammamish; Garnett (Mark) Coonrad of Valdez, Summer (Dan) Baxter, of Petersburg, Bentley Sperl, of Petersburg; great-grandchildren, Jordan, Peyton, Hannah, Rye, Denali, Jonicka, Kiana, Laykin, Chevelle, Mitchell, Braden, Colin, Dominic, Rocco, Kelsa, Koren, Kole, Owen, Eli, Joshua, Kendra, Samantha, Alexis, Thomas, Cailynn and Kerra.

A celebration of life will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at the University of Alaska Southeast Charles Gamble Jr. Donald Sperl Facility, 1230 Mendenhall Loop Road. All are invited to attend. A reception follows in the Student Activity Center down the hall. In lieu of flowers, the Sperl family would appreciate donations be made to the Juneau Pioneers' Home or Hospice and Home Care of Juneau.

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