Village loses great supporter with Spranger's death
The Village of Lannon is mourning the loss of business owner and stalwart community activist Mark Spranger.
Spranger, 47, who owned Repco Lawn and Garden, died Monday, the victim of an apparent suicide by handgun. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the Medical Examiner's office.
Village of Lannon Police Chief Mark Flessert confirmed that police were called at about 2:51 p.m., and that notes were found at the scene.
"This is a devastating loss for the community. He was one of the few guys on the Fire Department who was actually around during the day, every day, and he went on all the ambulance calls he could.
"All this guy ever did was give to the community," Flessert said.
"Mark was a friend of mine and to everyone on the Fire Department. This is a real loss," he added.
Flessert recalled that in June, there was a large spaghetti dinner benefit in the village at which hundreds of plates were served.
"Mark Spranger cooked all that spaghetti at his house," he said.
"He was a pillar of the community," the chief added.
Spranger was a volunteer firefighter, a dedicated member of the Lannon Lions Club and active as a leader with the Boy Scouts organization.
Jim Doro, a longtime friend from the Lions Club, had spent some time with Spranger at his shop just a short time before his death.
"I was there from about 1:15 to 1:50 p.m. I never saw anything … it was a total shock to me. It was the same hello, you know? We talked a little.
"I was there when another Lions member called and was going to bring his lawnmower in at 3 p.m. and (by that time) all the police cars were there (at Spranger's business) and it was taped off," he said.
Touching base with Spranger was a regular occurrence for Doro.
"I stopped in there twice a week or more, and we'd sit down and hash things over.
"I would call him Mr. Lannon; he was just the backbone of that little village for years and for the Lions Club for 27 years, too," he added.
"He's just been the pillar of society and a real, real good friend," Doro said.
It was a sentiment shared by many.
"Mark was one great guy. I've known him for quite a while. If there was anything to be done in this village, Mark got it done. He was a go-getter and a good organizer. This little village will miss him. He was one good all-around guy," said Marge Metzger.
Metzger said she was "very surprised" to learn of his death.
"He was a very outgoing person. I saw him once, sometimes twice, a week, sometimes more often around the village. He was very civic-minded," she said.
Fellow Lions Club member Keith Klein said Spranger's death will leave a void.
"He really will be missed. He was a pillar of the community and stepped up for whatever needed to be done," he said.
Klein said Spranger was among the youngest of the members in the Lannon Lions Club, where he served as a former president.
"Mark brought a lot of youth and vigor to the club," he said.
Klein said Spranger also stepped up as a leader for the Boy Scout Troop 62 at Lannon Elementary, where his step-grandchildren attended school.
"He was the driving engine for the Lions Club and all the things that it does for Lannon," he said.
Klein recalls that the first time he met Spranger, through a mutual friend, he asked how he could request funds for flags, standards and parade gear for a newly formed Scout troop.
Spranger gave him some advice, and Klein approached the club with his information.
"Within five minutes they told us where to get a free U.S. and state flags that had been flown over the State Capitol, where to get the standards and parade gear at a discount and wrote a check for the discounted price," he recalled.
"There's no doubt in my mind that he (Spranger) greased the skids, if you will," said Klein, who joined the club at the next meeting.
Klein recalled how his friend took a personal setback and turned it into a positive.
"About 10 or 12 years ago, Mark had a DUI (a citation for driving under the influence). He quit drinking, became a volunteer firefighter and went through EMT training," Klein said.
"One year later, almost to the day, he ended up assisting the same officer who had arrested him. He was the first one on the scene to help" with an accident victim, Klein recalled.
"What a turnaround," he added.
"I've known Mark for a long time, and I don't think he's missed a Sunday service at St. James since he was a teenager; if he has, you could count them on one hand," he said.
Survivors include wife Pamela, step-daughters Amy and Angela, step-grandson Johnathon, parents Marian and Larry of Pewaukee, sisters Deb and Sue, other relatives and friends.
A wake will be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at Schmidt & Bartlet Funeral Home in Menomonee Falls. Funeral is at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. James Church in Menomonee Falls.