Dr. Norman Sprague Jr.; Mudd College Benefactor


Dr. Norman F. Sprague Jr., a surgeon, educator, community leader and philanthropist who was a founding trustee and benefactor of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, has died. He was 82.

Sprague, the son and father of physicians who shared the same name, died Saturday in Los Angeles, said his son, Dr. Norman F. Sprague III.

The elder Sprague built a library in his father’s honor at Harvey Mudd College and created an endowed professorship in the life sciences department there.


Sprague, whose first wife, Caryll, was the daughter of Harvey S. Mudd, also served as board chairman of their Caryll and Norman Sprague Foundation and as a trustee of the Mildred and Harvey S. Mudd Foundation. Caryll Mudd Sprague died in 1978.

A professor of medicine at UCLA, Sprague created an endowed professorship in molecular oncology at the UCLA School of Medicine.

A collector of Native American art, Sprague was a former president of the Southwest Museum and an honorary trustee of the California Museum Foundation.

Sprague, well known in conservative political circles and a friend of President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, served on the city of Los Angeles’ powerful Community Redevelopment Agency.

He was former president of the California Institute of Cancer Research and board member of the Cancer Assn. and was on the advisory committee for the space biomedicine division of the University Space Research Assn. Sprague also was a director of the Retinitis Pigmentosa International national board, a trustee of the UCLA Foundation and a member of the board of visitors to the UCLA Medical School.

Although he maintained a medical practice, Sprague also served on several businesses’ boards, successively chairing those of the Western Pioneer Co. and the Pioneer Savings & Loan Assn.


Born in Los Angeles, Sprague studied at UCLA, UC Berkeley and the Harvard University Medical School. He served in the South Pacific during World War II as a major in the Army Medical Corps. In 1981, Sprague married Erlenne Estes Perkins, who survives.

In addition to his wife and son, Sprague is survived by three daughters, Caryll Sprague Mingst, Cynthia Sprague Connolly and Elizabeth Sprague Day; a brother, Robert R. Sprague; a sister, Audrey Sprague Moore; a stepdaughter, Lynn Speer Ashforth; 15 grandchildren; and three step-grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Westwood.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to Harvey Mudd College, the Southwest Museum or the UCLA School of Medicine.