Businessman’s death left void

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 24, 1999

The death of Ironton business owner and native Alfred G.

Sunday, October 24, 1999

The death of Ironton business owner and native Alfred G. "Sonny" Spriggs will leave an empty space in the hearts of the many area residents whose lives he touched.

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"He sure was a fine man, and I thought the world of him," said former Spriggs Distributing Inc. bookkeeper Barbara Waginger. "He was awful good to me during the years I worked there."

A 23-year employee of Spriggs’s company, Mrs. Waginger said her former boss had a heart of gold, filled with generosity for his employees.

"He used to try to do something for all of us in the office, and one year he rented a condo in Florida for all his employees," she said. "He sent all his employees there for a week’s vacation and he paid for a rental car and all our expenses for the week we were there. He was so generous to us."

He also supported his employees, she added.

"He always told us, ‘I might not go along with everything you do, but I’ll never go against you,’" she said. "And he didn’t."

Spriggs made a habit of standing behind his employees, in good times and in bad, agreed former Spriggs Distributing Inc. transport driver Garland Lind of South Point.

"I worked for him for almost 40 years, and I thought a lot of him," Lind said. "He was a real man to work for – once I was (temporarily) paralyzed and was off work for 13 weeks. Mr. Spriggs gave me a check every week, even though I couldn’t work."

Taking care of employees extended to taking care of family, too, Lind added.

"He always treated me and all his employees very well, but he also treated my family real good, too," Lind said. "I just thought the world of him."

Spriggs, who was 75 at the time of his death Wednesday at his Sarasota, Fla., home, graduated from Ironton High School and attended Purdue University where he was a Big Ten boxing champion during his freshman year. He left the university during World War II and became a P51 Mustang pilot with the 353rd Fighter Group in England where he was awarded numerous military honors, including Battle Stars, Air Medals and four Oak Leaf Clusters.

In 1981, he graduated with a Master of Theology from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus and served as lay chaplain at Central Ohio Psychiatric Center. He was awarded the Columbus Mayor’s Citizen of the Year Award.

In Ironton, he was a former director at First National Bank and a former president of both the Ironton Board of Trade and the Lions Club, as well as founding chairman of the Ironton City Schools Foundation.

In addition to Spriggs Distributing, he also owned and operated the Eagle Distributing Co. of Ashland, Ky., and Eagle Distributing Co. and PS Partnership in Huntington, W.Va.

Of all his accomplishments, however, perhaps the one he will be remembered for the most was his friendship, said longtime friend Jake Scherer, owner of Scherer Mountain Insurance.

"I met Sonny in 1947, and we were best friends all that time," Scherer said. "I had many, many good experiences with Sonny."

As memories washed over him, Scherer paused, searching for just the right words to sum up the man, the good times, a kind heart beyond compare and a lifetime of smiles, good works and dedication to helping others. But none could easily suffice, he said.

But, one quality pushed its way to the surface again and again, reminding Scherer and all who knew Spriggs, of the rarity of such a person in today’s society.

"One thing you could depend on was that whatever he said was going to happen," Scherer said. "He was a go-getter and a dependable guy. His word was his bond."