News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters celebrates one of its icons

George Sproat’s family invited the community to come to Takoda’s last Friday night to celebrate his 90th birthday with a surprise party. It was standing room only as young and old alike gathered to offer Sproat warm birthday wishes.

As Sproat was escorted into the restaurant by his daughter Tana, to be greeted with applause, smiles, and strains of “Happy Birthday,” he turned to Tana, saying, “I told you I didn’t want a party.” But a party he had, complete with birthday cake topped with a likeness of the birthday boy and mini-cupcakes and lots of pizza for the guests.

“George stories” abounded, willingly shared and accompanied by smiles and laughter.

Two couples who have been George’s neighbors for eight years recalled the time just last year when, at 89, he was up on his roof and the wind blew his ladder down. His shouts finally alerted the neighbors to his predicament and the ladder was retrieved. Both the Eckfords and the Gonsiewskis reported that George is a good neighbor who still mows his own lawn. The Gonsiewskis hold a few house concerts during the summer and George always attends, carrying over his own lawn chair.

Dixie Eckford said, “George is very self-sufficient, doing his own thing.”

Virginia West moved to Camp Sherman in 1948, the same year George moved to Sisters. She said she’s known him “forever.”

Shirley Miller recounted how George and Charlotte accompanied her and her soon-to-be husband to Reno when they got married in 1966. Charlotte told them she really liked them both but she didn’t think it would last. They proved her wrong.

Charlotte worked for years at The Gallery Restaurant, formerly Ruth’s Café, for several different owners, as a waitress and then as the manager. Two of her co-workers were in attendance Friday night with warm hugs for George. One was Shirley. Brenda Severson was the other member of the serving trio. She remembers Sproat coming in on a regular basis for a cup of coffee.

There was a whole contingent of Habitat for Humanity volunteers who worked on construction crews with George. He joined the Habitat team in 1999, when his daughter Tana was selected as a future Habitat homeowner.

The Habitat crew told stories of how George worked full-time on the Habitat houses on East Cascade Avenue. He was still going up on the homes’ roofs when he was 86, the year he finally retired from the crew. He became known as the laminate flooring expert while working on the houses. In 2011, George was given the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to those who have given more than 4,000 hours of service to one organization.

George’s community engagement also included 16 years on the Sisters City Council, from 1967-83, and 10 years as mayor from 1973-83. Eighty-six-year-old Carolyn Runco, a long-time Sisters resident, said she served as the City clerk for part of the time George was mayor. She said their daughters were best friends.

George is the youngest of four children of William Leroy and Eva (Chapman) Sproat. Roy, as his father was called, came from North Dakota to Central Oregon to raise grain, potatoes, and do some truck farming. Roy met Eva in the Fort Rock area where the Chapmans had a homestead.

George was born in Terrebonne in 1929. He attended several different schools in the area, including Bend High School until his junior year when he quit school to go to work and then joined the Navy as an airman. George and Charlotte Ladrow were married in 1951. Five days later, George was sent overseas.

When Charlotte was 3 years old, her family moved from Dayville to Sisters. She started first grade in Sisters and attended school here until she got married. After George was discharged from the service, he and Charlotte returned to Sisters and started a family. They had three daughters, Cindy, Linda, and Tana; and one son, Bryan. Sadly, Linda died in an automobile accident in 1974 on her way home from Bend.

George worked for Barclay Logging for years before starting George’s Septic Tank Service in 1963. The company, including Ranch Country Outhouses, is now owned and run by his son.

Bob Buckmann had a funny story about the first time he met George.

He and his wife, Jeri, and their girls had just moved to Sisters and were getting settled in a rental house out on Goodrich Road.

After two days they became aware of an unpleasant odor coming from the bathroom.

Bob tried fixing the problem but only made it worse when everything spilled out on the floor.

Looking in the Yellow Pages he found George’s Septic Tank Service and placed a call.

Despite the fact it was Sunday, George came right out.

As he walked in the door, the first thing he said was, “Oh, that’s the smell of money!” He determined the problem was tree roots in the septic line and in short order had it all fixed up.

The house George lives in has been his home for 64 years and has undergone several remodels. He and Charlotte raised their family in that house. They had been married for 54 years at the time of her death in 2005.

Tana told The Nugget that despite his initial hesitation, George enjoyed himself at his party. He ate some of the cake made by Amy Bennett at the Cake Lab in Sisters and took some home for later.

Tana described her dad as a hard worker.

“He was always there for us kids.”


Reader Comments(0)