Wednesday, March 10, 2021

In Memoriam: Jules B. Sprung

My father, Jules Sprung, died this past Saturday after a short hospital stay -- of kidney failure specifically, and old age generally. He was very frail, but alert and engaged until his very last days in the hospital. My mother has taken meticulous loving care of him as he very gradually lost the ability to take care of himself. 

We miss him dearly but are at peace with the conclusion of a life well lived. An obituary is below. Thanks to Dan Woog, author of the blog 06880, a chronicle of daily life in Westport, CT, for publishing a skillfully edited version.


Jules B. Sprung, a resident of Westport with his wife Barbara since 1976, died on March 6 in Norwalk Hospital. The cause was kidney failure. He was 92.

Jules founded and ran two mail-order office supply companies, Hudson Pen, Inc. and Sarand, Inc., selling the latter in 1988 and working afterward as a marketing consultant. Sarand, based in New York City, employed dozens of people from the mid-seventies through the 1980s.

In his retirement, Jules taught swimming classes for children for many years at the Westport YMCA, where he was an honored presence at the pool until the pandemic curtailed operations in 2020.  He was also president of the Indian River Green condo complex on Saugatuck Road in Westport, where he and Barbara moved in 2002.

Jules Sprung

Born in New York City, Jules lived with his parents Ben and Rose in the East Village until the Depression forced the family in 1936 to move in with Jules’s grandparents in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he spent much of his childhood before the family moved to Washington Heights in Manhattan. He attended Hunter College Elementary School and Stuyvesant High School in New York, where he was elected class vice president and celebrated for scheduling dances with nearby girls’ high schools.  After a year at City College, he transferred to DePauw University in Indiana, graduating in 1949. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army National Guard from 1952 and worked for a time at the New York Post. He also spent some years as a marketing executive before founding Hudson Pen circa 1969.

He was introduced to Barbara Rosenfeld, then a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College, by a business acquaintance in 1952; the couple married in 1953. Their daughter Sarah was born in 1956 and son Andrew in 1959.

The Sprungs had a genuine feminist partnership, in which Jules supported Barbara’s work as an early childhood teacher in the 1960s, her pursuit of a Master’s degree in education in the early 1970s, and her career as a nonprofit founder and early childhood curriculum producer in the decades following.  When Barbara co-founded the nonprofit Educational Equity Concepts in 1981, Jules generously provided office space to the startup at Sarand’s Manhattan location.

Jules had a strong creative streak, writing short stories and authoring an ambitious historical novel in his 70s. He also published a memoir of his early life and career called Connections. Jules was enormously well-read and enjoyed sharing his knowledge about such topics as political history and the classics. He had a mischievous sense of humor whose storytelling skills often made him the last person to finish dinner.

Having enjoyed working as a swimming instructor at summer camps in his youth, Jules reconnected with that early passion in his 70s, obtaining recertification as a Red Cross instructor and putting the reclaimed skill to work at the Westport Y for some 15 years until around 2012. He was a patient instructor who enjoyed children and provided meticulous small group and one-on-one instruction to young children in the full range of swimming strokes. In his later years, the pool was a refuge from encroaching arthritis, and he was a familiar presence at the warmer children’s end of the pool, where he was accorded space to do his backstroke laps. He and Barbara also loved Compo Beach and visited regularly.

At Westport YMCA, Dec. 2018

Jules is survived by his sister Helene Naimon, his wife Barbara, his daughter Sarah (husband Allan) and son Andrew (wife Cynthia), as well as grandchildren Benjamin, Nathaniel, Emily, Jonah and Asher, and great-grandchildren Laila and Oliver, along with his niece Suzanne Davies.

Donations in Jules Sprung’s memory can be made to the Connecticut Food Bank.

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