George William Spruk, 90, of Pittsburg passed away March 5, 2022. He was born August 8, 1931 in Pittsburg to Freda (née Wahl) and Frank Spruk and grew up with his great aunt and uncle, Bertie (née Moats) and Jess Allred. His defining character traits of honesty, integrity, perfectionism and hard work were evident to all who knew him. He was a grand storyteller. He once said he considered himself somewhat of a homebody. Wherever he roamed in life, he was always happiest when back at his 10-acre place in Pittsburg. George grew up enjoying nature by fishing, hunting, discovering arrowheads and trapping mink, beaver and muskrats. As a teenager, he was awarded the National Top Pelt Award for five consecutive years in a competition run by the Sears Roebuck Co.
George attended Eugene Field primary school, Roosevelt Jr. High and then graduated from Pittsburg High School in 1949. In 1948 and again in 1949 he earned Gold Medals at the Kansas State High School Music competitions for his outstanding cornet trumpet performances. During that time, he was often chosen to play taps at local veteran funerals. George went into the Army as a Private First Class in the 835th Engineer Aviation Battalion in 1950 and served at the base in Mineral Wells, Texas. This was the beginning of his service to his country that would span the course of his life, later working for the US Department of Agriculture and the Federal Internal Revenue Service. All together he had a total of 31 years government service. When he was honorably discharged from the Army, he appreciated the benefits of a veteran by using the GI Bill to complete in 1955 his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from then Kansas State Teacher’s College, now Pittsburg State University. George married his love, Sylvia Ann Silvia, in May of 1951. Together they lived in Mineral Wells, Texas, Pierre, South Dakota, Topeka, Kansas and Grand Island, Nebraska, but they always moved back to Pittsburg. Camping trips in tents and trailers throughout the West took them to admire nature in our country’s National and State Parks: Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and camping parks in New Mexico. George and Sylvia spent many retirement hours at Queen Wilhelmina Lodge in Arkansas enjoying the big fireplace in the main lobby and watching the beautiful sunsets viewed from there.
Love of animals was a constant in George’s life. Pictures of his favorite calves Brownie and Blackie and his childhood dog, Mitzie would bring a smile. The Spruk family dog, Freckles, was a favorite pet along with a string of Miniature Schnauzers he and Syl loved to the end: Gretta, Knoedel and Wilhelmina. In 1988 George retired from the IRS and was awarded the National Gallatin Award from the U.S. Treasury Department. In this very elite award given to him by then Secretary of Treasury, James Baker, George was cited as having earned the “high esteem” of his country for his “fine contributions made to public service.” He was very proud of this award. Retirement gave George the opportunity to build a beautiful pecan orchard on his home acreage. In 1982, he and his family planted 100 pecan tree saplings. He was a self-taught grafter of these native trees resulting in delicious crops of many varieties of pecans. Grafting trees is an art form as well as a science. George became very adept at this second profession and grafted trees for several people in Southeast Kansas as well as at his son-in-law’s family farm in Missouri. Family gatherings for fall harvests of pecans became a tradition. His son, Dan, and son-in-law Brad, helped him keep the orchard mowed and in pristine condition. In 1998 George was elected Treasurer of the Kansas Nut Growers Association.
George is survived by his three children: Nancy (Spruk) Radell and her husband Brad of Pittsburg, Dan Spruk of Pomme de Terre, Missouri and Debby (Spruk) Carpenter and her husband Jamie of St. Louis, Missouri. He was Papa, grandfather, of Sarah (Radell) Schiefelbein and her husband Eric and their children Katelyn, Von and Dylan, Katie Carpenter and Angie (Carpenter) Dent and her husband Adam and their daughter, Addison Mae. He was preceded in death by his wife Sylvia, his great aunt and uncle, and his grandson Eric Radell.
Graveside services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at the Mt. Olive Cemetery with Pastor Tom Wehrman residing. Burial will follow at the Mt. Olive Abbey. Friends may call at the Brenner Mortuary from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Tuesday to sign the register book. The family suggests memorials to the St. John Lutheran Church. These may be left at or mailed to the Brenner Mortuary, 114 East 4th St., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Friends may leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com.
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