WILMINGTON — Laurence Gray Sprunt died peacefully on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, at home. He was born on April 3, 1927 in Wilmington to the late James Laurence Sprunt and Annie Gray Nash Ruffin Sprunt.
He was preceded in death by his brothers, James Laurence Sprunt, Jr, Peter Brown Ruffin, Kenneth Murchison Sprunt and Samuel Nash Sprunt.
Mr. Sprunt attended Tileston Elementary School, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1949.
During WWII, he spent three years and five days in the Navy, aboard the USS Chester T. O’ Brien, and proudly claimed that “We won the war!” He was a partner in the Carolina Pacific Plywood Company and later owned and managed Farmer’s Supply Company, where he was known for his amusing sayings on the front sign. To his knowledge, he was the last surviving employee of his family’s cotton business, Alexander Sprunt and Son, where as a teenager he learned to grade cotton.
Mr. Sprunt’s heart and soul was his family home, Orton Plantation, which he managed with his brother Kenneth for the last half of his life. A nature lover, he was especially interested in pine trees, alligators, birds, Venus flytraps and camellias. He enjoyed seeing Orton transformed into the setting of the first major movie filmed in the area.
Mr. Sprunt was the quintessential Southern gentleman, known for his wit and his clever story telling ability and would break out in songs of his favorite composer, Fats Waller. He took great pride in his frugality, much to his wife’s chagrin, but he was as generous as he was frugal. He was involved in numerous cultural and charitable organizations.
He was an avid hunter, fisherman, sailor and was proud to have completed several YMCA triathlons at Wrightsville Beach. He was an enthusiastic member of the Tuesday Night Poker Club.
He was quite proud of his book, “The Past, A Stairway To The Future”, which was a compilation of stories from his wonderful life.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Elizabeth Harriss Sprunt; daughters, Elizabeth Harriss Dunn, Annie Gray Johnston; and a son, David Harriss Sprunt and his wife, Louise Liggett Sprunt. He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, George Edward Holt IV, Annie Gray Holt, Margaret Murchison Sprunt, Louise LeBlond Sprunt and Virginia Elizabeth Sprunt. And he is survived by a gracious plenty of nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family will receive friends Friday, Sept. 30, at 1509 Country Club Road from 5-7 p.m.
A celebration of his life will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016 at St. James Parish with the Reverend Jay Sidebotham officiating and a reception following in the Great Hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to St. James Church, 25 South Third Street, Wilmington, NC 28401, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC 28401 or to The Ministering Circle of Wilmington, PO Box 3862, Wilmington, NC 28406.