Jane Kathleen (Young) Sprague
May 18, 1947 - July 25, 2018
Jane Kathleen (Young) Sprague passed away on July 25, 2018 at University of Washington Hospital in Seattle after a two and half year battle with liposarcoma.
Jane was born in 1947 to Jim and Kae Young. Raised in Northwest Seattle, she attended Broadview Elementary, Wilson Junior High, and Ingraham High School where she played flute in the marching band.
After high school, she attended Shoreline Community College for two years where she met her future husband, Alan. Then it was on to the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology followed by earning a teaching certificate. During her high school and college years, she worked in nursing homes and in an advertising agency.
Jane began her teaching career in Northshore School District at Arrowhead Elementary. After two years it was time to raise a family, so she left the district to raise Susan and James. She stayed connected to education during those years, working with the Sunday school at Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore, and with a preschool housed there. Eventually she became the director of the preschool before again being bit by the public school bug while accompanying James’ fifth grade class to Camp Casey. So, it was back to teaching 1st grade for Northshore, this time at Westhill Elementary, our neighborhood school. She became known as a caring and effective teacher. She was often surprised at how many parents she later encountered who told her that their children have become teachers, largely “because of Mrs. Sprague.”
Jane was forced to leave teaching after her first round of cancer in 2006. She turned her attention to volunteer work at Kenmore Church of the Redeemer, Westhill Elementary School as a tutor, and King County’s Northshore Regional Public Library. She poured herself into working on her extensive gardens, was a key participant in developing and maintaining the Memorial Garden at Redeemer, and played an important role in designing, organizing and building several award-winning display gardens at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. In her “spare time,” Jane crocheted baby blankets for every infant of friends and family that she heard was about to arrive. When she occasionally ran out of babies to crochet for, she turned her attention to making quilts for all immediate family members and to donate to Mary’s Place (a shelter for homeless families in Kenmore.)
Jane and Alan traveled as well. The island of Kaua’i became a favorite annual retreat. They also made trips to Ireland, France, Italy, New Zealand, and of course to her roots in England where her sister, Wincy, lives. (I’ll never forget one of Jane’s quilts spread out for inspection in little pieces across the bed of a hotel in Dublin!)
With 12 years of good health following her first encounter with liposarcoma, it was a surprise to learn it had returned, though we knew that was a possibility. Several chemotherapies, followed by 16 months in a clinical trial stopped the progression of the tumor but didn’t cure it. At last, with the side-effects becoming too burdensome, the decision was made to remove the tumor. It was a very long surgery involving two teams of surgeons. Although it appeared Jane was doing well, issues arose that sent her back to the hospital three times. Then a confluence of issues occurred that overwhelmed Jane’s resistance and energy.
On Monday, July 23 around midnight Jane returned to the UW Hospital. As Tuesday wore on, the doctors became increasingly concerned. Late in the day the family began converging at the hospital. All 4 grandchildren came late in the evening and were each able to have a personal chat with “Gran.” Fr. Jack Zimmerman made his second visit of the day to Jane to administer last rites, and Jane quietly passed away at about 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, July 25.
True to her nature, she left her mark on those caring for her. Jane’s oncologist at SCCA called, wanting to be sure that we knew Jane’s perseverance and good-natured persistence in the face of daunting odds had added to their knowledge of liposarcoma, and had shown the staff much about resilience, positive thinking, and perseverance.
She will be terribly missed, but her nature and legacy will live on through her children and grandchildren. Jane is survived by her husband Alan, daughter Susan (Jeff) Switzer, son James (Laura) Sprague, grandchildren Alex, Cully, Sarah and Emily, and her sisters Winifred (Vick) House and Lynn (Larry) Asmann and their families.
A memorial service will be held August 11 at 2:00 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore, WA.
Remembrances are encouraged to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children’s Hospital.