Arnold ‘Arnie’ Sprung |

Arnold ‘Arnie’ Sprung


On January 3, 2010, Arnold Sprung died as he had lived on his own terms.

"Arnie," as he was known to most, was born April 18, 1926, in New York City to David L. Sprung and Anna Stork Sprung. He grew up there with his sister, Edith Rose, now of Princeton New Jersey.

At age 17, he joined the Navy against the will of his parents, serving on a destroyer escort in the Pacific theater as a Lt. JG. He served aboard the USS Barton, where he participated in Operation Crossroads ordered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to test the effect of the atomic bomb explosion on naval vessels and sailors, conducted at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands. As testimony to his front-line service as well as his sense of humor, he always carried in his wallet proof of his initiation into three unofficial naval societies: the Exclusive Order of Guinea Pigs, the Oriental Mysteries of Honorable Ancestors of the Golden Dragon, and the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep.

In 1947, using the GI Bill, Arnie earned a BA from Dartmouth College well ahead of schedule and, in a last-minute decision, turned down a promising engineering job in Florida to enter Columbia University Law School where he graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1950. In a pattern he would follow for the rest of his life, he applied for only one job — in a prestigious New York law firm specializing in patent law. He was hired by the firm and quickly established a reputation for courtroom prowess thanks in large part to his voracious desire for knowledge, photographic memory, and ability to quickly master arcane and complicated legal and chemical principles. In short order, his name was on the door of Burgess, Dinklage & Sprung as one of the youngest full partners in his profession.

Arnie was married to actress Audrey Caire Sprung in Briarcliff, New York, in 1978, and the two of them nurtured and inspired a blended family of two sons and three daughters, all of whom survive them both. In a quarter century of semi-retirement in Park City, Arnie continued his lifelong obsession with sports. A sailor, surfer, water- and snow skier most of his life, he took up kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, roller blading and wind surfing in his fifties. It came as no surprise to those who knew him that, in his seventies, he set a record for the most number of days skied in a year (186). He was a frequent NASTAR winner and a nearly constant presence on the most challenging black diamonds on the mountain.

Arnie lived to ski and in the end, he skied to live.

In August of 2005, he was diagnosed with cancer and given three months. As was typical of Arnie, he refused to accept the medical opinion of his doctors. His only concession to the cancer attacking his body was trading a walking stick for an off-road Segway in order to hike the hills with his dogs and his friends. He also exercised his mind reading hundreds of books and periodicals each year, searching the Internet for obscure topics, and continuing to advise clients on complicated patent issues almost to his death.

For the past five years he disproved medical opinions that he had only weeks to live. He vowed a year ago to see the new decade which he did. Finally, in the company of his sons, John and Tom, Arnie seemed to choose his time to peacefully and calmly pass over as always refusing to make a fuss, and looking forward to what was next for him with humor and curiosity.

Arnie is survived by his beloved golden retriever, Thayne; his sons John Peter Sprung of East Dover, Vermont, and Thomas Arnold Sprung of Denver, Colorado; his daughters Louise Clark Goddard of Washington, D.C., Doran Clark Abrams of Los Angeles, Calif., and D’Wayne Clark Waterman of Bethel, Connecticut; eleven grandchildren; one great grandchild; and a small army of loyal and loving friends, ski companions and dog-walking buddies. We all miss him greatly.

A memorial service will be held in Park City in the summer.

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