Cover photo for Donald  Wilson  Spurrell's Obituary
Donald  Wilson  Spurrell Profile Photo
1927 Donald 2020

Donald Wilson Spurrell

November 20, 1927 — September 9, 2020

Donald W. Spurrell, a representative example of The Greatest Generation, World War II veteran, Alabama football player, and patent attorney died Sept. 9 in Johnson City, TN from complications caused by COVID-19. He was 92.

A first generation American, Mr. Spurrell was born on November 20, 1927 to immigrant parents from Newfoundland, Canada - Edith Knee Spurrell and Edwin Vincent Spurrell - in Brooklyn, NY. Mr. Spurrell combined a wealth of early experiences into a mosaic of interests and accomplishments in science, law, the arts and athletics.

At seventeen, in 1944, he forged his parents’ signatures and joined the United States Navy, working as a boatswain’s mate third class in the engine room of the destroyer escort, the Daniel A. Joy, operating in the Pacific theater. He was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Medal, the American Theatre Medal, and the Victory Medal. He returned to NY after his service and reentered Central Islip High School on Long Island. Graduating with honors, he was also a standout running back on the football team, shortstop on the baseball team, and trumpet player in the school band. He said there was nothing quite so motivating as four straight months of seasickness.

While scouting for another player, a college recruiter watched as Spurrell scored multiple touchdowns in a single game, resulting in a scholarship offer from the University of Alabama. At Alabama, while majoring in chemistry and math and before his football career was cut short by injury in his junior year, he excelled at multiple positions on both offense and defense, playing in fiberglass helmets with no face masks. He marveled that he still had teeth.
At a 1948 Alabama/Tennessee football game in Knoxville, his future wife, a University of Tennessee student, Grace Brading, would see his photo in the program and remark to her friends that that Alabama tailback was really good looking. The two would meet several years later.

Mr. Spurrell completed his Master’s degree in math before entering the University of Alabama School of Law and earning his J.D. After moving to Washington, DC, he worked for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a Patent Examiner. There, he met the great love of his life, Grace Brading of Johnson City, Tennessee. A year later, they were married and moved first to Detroit, Michigan, and then Rochester, New York, where he was a patent attorney with Eastman Kodak.

While in Rochester, the Spurrells were introduced to Thousand Islands, NY on the St. Lawrence. This place and their beloved friends at “The River” became an integral part of their lives for many years to come.

Moving to Johnson City, Tennessee in 1966 was a homecoming for Grace who had attended Science Hill High School and the University of Tennessee and had many friends and family in the area, including her parents the late Edith Miller Brading and Dr. Edward T. Brading.

Mr. Spurrell retired from Eastman Kodak in 1986 and continued his work as an independent patent attorney for many clients, securing trademarks and patents for the next 34 years. He was most proud of the service he was able to render to the small inventor.

A true Renaissance man - lover of family, cooking, and sports, continuing to play golf into his 90s by using a one-handed swing - player of trumpets and violins, inventor of machines and gadgets, builder of trailers and garage doors, enjoyer of sunsets and boats on the St. Lawrence River, reader of Doyle and Shakespeare, and watcher of Star Trek and Sponge Bob - Mr. Spurrell’s colossal intellect, scientific curiosity, and playful wit stayed with him until his final day.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Edith and Ed Spurrell of Brentwood, NY, and his brother, Eric Vincent Spurrell of Newport News, VA and by his beloved wife of 56 years, Grace Brading Spurrell, who made many significant contributions of her own to her community and state.

Don Spurrell’s survivors include his grateful children: Donald E. Spurrell and wife, Kristin, of Johnson City, James B. Spurrell and wife, LuAnne, of Bethesda, MD, Anne Spurrell Darden and husband, Steve, of Johnson City, and John M. Spurrell and wife, Marisa, of Durham, NC; his grandchildren, Evan and Megan Spurrell, Grace E. Spurrell Studer and husband, Mason; Katie and Gus Darden, and Haydn and Doriana Spurrell; his honorary grandchildren, Taylor Edwards and Eleanor Reiser; his sisters-in-law, Anne Brading and Eve Spurrell, and several Spurrell, Brading, Dowd, and Tomita nieces and nephews.

The family expresses its heartfelt thanks to all the kind and committed nurses and doctors of the COVID Unit at JCMCH who work tirelessly to give their patients comfort and hope. There are many more than we can list here, but these people in particular were involved with our father’s care, and we are grateful to them for their efforts on his behalf: CNAs, April Mckracker and Sarah Hooper; Nurses, Stefani Annett, Lakeysha Aples, Juan Beltran, Donna Boyce, Chandra Campbell, Alyssa Carter, Alisha Hill, Casey Hoover, Donna Jones, Heather Justis, Lindsey King, Kari Newton, Lydia Robinson, and Doctors Clinton Loy, Ahmed, Colon, Holt, and John.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations for Donald W. Spurrell be made to the Grace B. Spurrell Memorial Fund at the Johnson City Public Library or to a charity of choice.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the Spurrell family via
Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 2001 E. Oakland Ave., is serving the Spurrell family. (423) 282-1521

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Donald Wilson Spurrell, please visit our flower store.


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