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Dedicated firefighter found joy in children, races

| Saturday, June 29, 2013, 12:13 a.m.
Robert J. Sproull, 80, of Vandergrift, died Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in his residence.

Robert J. Sproull gave selflessly to his country, his community, his school district and his family.

The 80-year-old Korean War veteran is fondly remembered by his family as a generous man.

“He would go without things way before he would let someone else go without,” said his niece, Melissa Bartell of Apollo.

Mr. Sproull of Vandergrift died on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

He volunteered for 50 years with the Vandergrift Volunteer Fire Department No. 2, where he was an ambulance driver for 18 years.

Bartell said her uncle frequently talked about his work with the department.

“He loved it because it was a chance to help people,” she said. “He could help somebody that needed help.”

Mr. Sproull had a long history of volunteering his time and talents with several local fire departments. He was a member of the firemen's associations of Westmoreland County, Armstrong County, Western Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania, and volunteered his time in the Vandergrift and Apollo fire halls.

Mr. Sproull worked as a custodian for the Kiski Area School District for 32 12 years. He retired in 1993.

Bartell said her uncle enjoyed interacting with the students in the district.

“He didn't have children of his own,” she said. “All the kids out there that he would see and talk to were his kids.”

Bartell said former students often came up to Mr. Sproull and asked if he was “their” custodian.

“They remember him,” she said.

In his free time, Mr. Sproull enjoyed watching stock car races at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver.

Bartell said her uncle especially enjoyed spending time with his family.

“He absolutely adored my son and niece and nephew,” she said. “The kids were his life.”

Mr. Sproull is survived by two brothers, James Daniel Sproull and wife, Grace, and John Edward Sproull, both of Vandergrift; and a sister, Susanne Ruth Sproull of Manor Township.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Clawson Funeral and Cremation Center Inc., 170 Main St., Leechburg, where a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday. Interment will follow in Evergreen Cemetery, Gilpin Township, with full military honors by the Vandergrift Veterans Honor Guard.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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