Alfred Carl Spreng, Ph.D., professor emeritus of geology at Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T), died of heart failure at his home in Rolla, Missouri, on October 19, 2012. He leaves as survivors his wife (Wealthy), three children (twins, Catherine and Carl, and Lillian), nine grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.
Al was born February 2, 1923, on a farm near Alliance, Ohio, to Swiss and German parents who had just immigrated to the United States. After an early interest in finding arrowheads, he attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and majored in geology. He did his master’s studies at the University of Kansas-Lawrence, where he met Wealthy who was also working on her master’s in geology, and his doctorate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In the fall of 1950, Dr. Spreng began teaching geology at what was then the Missouri School of Mines. He took an early retirement in 1985 but continued guiding his graduate students through their research projects.
During World War II, in the midst of his undergraduate work, Al was sent to Denison University in Ohio and trained as a meteorologist for the U.S. Army Air Forces Weather Service. When the Physics Department at what was then the University of Missouri-Rolla stopped reporting weather data to the National Weather Service (NWS), Dr. Spreng took over this responsibility, rising each morning, often before the sun, to go to the weather station on campus to record the instrumental data and report it to the NWS in Springfield, MO, as well as sending current and past information on to several places in the Rolla community. On a day of glorious weather, he was determined to be outside looking at rocks or cutting brush on his land – all the while observing clouds and other weather conditions.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Al spent the summer mapping coal deposits for the United States Geological Survey in Alaska. Later, over a period of many years, he assumed the considerable task of the geologic mapping of the Rolla Quadrangle. During his tenure as professor, Dr. Spreng was the “custodian” of the maps used by the geology faculty and students until the maps were moved to the Curtis Laws Wilson Library. Because he was so gracious about keeping that collection organized and in good condition, the university honored him by dedicating the new space as the A. C. Spreng Map Room.
Dr. Spreng worked many summers for the Missouri Geological Survey, andthroughout his career, he was a consultant for various companies, including many cement businesses needing limestone deposits in Missouri and across the southern United States. For the university, he researched and authored “The History of Geology and Geophysics: 1871-2003,” and this last summer, he completed writing two papers.
A memorial service will be held to honor Dr. Spreng on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, in the St. Pat’s Ballroom A at the Havener Center on the MS&T campus. A simple service, at his request, will commence at 4:00 p.m. followed by an informal reception until 6:00 p.m. The back of the Havener Center is located at University Drive (or 14th Street) and Bishop. If you turn east at 12th Street and Bishop and drive toward the Havener Center, you will find a parking lot for visitors near the front of the Havener Center.
The Spreng family is extremely grateful for the supportive care given Al by his cardiology team and for the many warm visits he had with friends, family, colleagues, and former students this fall.
Tax-deductible contributions to honor the memory of Dr. Spreng can be made to the Nine Network of Public Media, St. Louis’ PBS television station, by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Dr. Alfred Spreng Research Award, established in 2007 at MS&T, by calling 1-800-392-4112.