Rudy Sprenger died in July 2017. His funeral service was delayed until October when all of his family were available to come Florida. Rudy was born in Holland and emigrated to Canada when he was 10 years old. His origin was quite surprising to many as his Dutch accent was barely detectable. He bought his first boat, a 12-foot scow 3 or 4 years later. As a young adult, Rudy joined the Whitby in Toronto and started sailing around the Islands and across Lake Ontario to New York. It was about this time that he started racing Thunderbirds – very fast boats. Eventually, he participated in the Thunderbird World Championships and won third place in that event in 1973.
A year later, Rudy decided to leave Canada. He sold the Thunderbird and bought a 37-foot lrwin with a center cockpit. He sailed it to South Florida with his two kids, six and eleven, and ran charters out of Fort Lauderdale for a couple of years. He even home schooled his sons but then, by mutual agreement, decided to settle into a more conventional land-based life.
In 1984 Rudy became a social worker for Broward County where he remained until 2004. Initially, he was involved in the Meals on Wheels program, but later he worked with the county’s aging population. During his time there, he received many commendations, from the governor on down. He planned to buy another 37-foot lrwin with a center cockpit like the one he sailed in on over thirty years ago. In the meantime, he bought an Endeavor 32, “Sundance”.
Rudy joined Gulfstream Sail Club and started racing. Soon after that he joined Sailing Singles. In 2004 he received the “Volunteer of the Year,” award and became Commodore in 2005, serving two consecutive terms, and was always there to lend a helping hand to succeeding board members.
Rudy met his wife Arlene Bothwell in Sailing Singles, and after their marriage they continued to be active associate members. They hosted many themed parties at their home which was ideal for both inside and outside events. SSSF members enjoyed their gracious hospitality. Arlene and volunteer members planned and decorated for the parties and awarded prizes for the best category. At every party Rudy welcomed guests as people arrived, surrounded by his three dachshunds. He had a warm smile for everyone.
A memorial service was held October 28th at Christ Church in Ft Lauderdale , with over 100 people attending. Messages and Remembrances were given by the Pastor, Rudy’s son’s, friends Jim Huber and Gary Stinek and lastly Arlene, Rudy’s wife. A photo presentation of pictures from Rudy’s early life up to the recent present was shown. As soon as the Service started the skies opened up, but as the mourners left the Church, the rain subsided and white doves were released! Following the service family members and friends gathered at the Sprenger’s home. It was good to see old friends gathering together to reminisce, and it was obvious that Rudy was missed.
At Rudy’s request, his ashes were scattered in the ocean the following day. Five boats went out in high winds and motored up the coast, the crews included family members and many friends from Sailing Singles. They joined together in an eight bell ceremony after his ashes were committed to the seas. Arlene received an SSSF flag with eight stars as a memento.
Until recently Rudy still owned his Endeavor 32, and although he did not achieve his goal of owning another Irwin sailboat like the one he had thirty years ago, he lived a rich and full life. And that makes all the difference.
ED: Thanks to Anne Ekstrom and Terry Patterson for their contributions.