Averell Spratt: A righteous man

14 December 2021

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

The Foundation of St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College lost a good friend as the life of Ave Spratt came to an early and unexpected close, on May 22.

But as his family, friends and thousands of others across North America agree, it was a life lived fully, faithfully and “full-throttle” to the end. In a beautiful eulogy, Laurenne and Sterling, two of his eight children, expressed it best when they said, “Once Ave Spratt wanted to do something, you best get on board or get out of the way as – either way – something incredible was going to happen!”

While that applied to everything Ave did, it was especially true of his faith life. He was raised in a devoutly Christian home, which formed him as a man of “deep faith and tremendous righteousness,” says Priscilla, his wife of 34 years. In the early years of their marriage, with Ave often travelling on business, Priscilla found herself drawn back to her own Catholic faith. As she became more deeply involved, “Ave saw it as his Christian duty as a father to join us at Mass.”

In the late 1990s, when their eldest daughter, Laurenne, began to ask for baptism, Ave agreed to go to baptism classes. That Easter, all five of their children were baptized and Ave and Priscilla’s marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church.

The following year Ave became Catholic, thanks largely to Father Paul Terrio (now Bishop Terrio of the Diocese of St. Paul, Alta.), “who shepherded us in my renewal of the faith and in Ave’s conversion,” says Priscilla with immense gratitude.

Once Catholic, Ave was all in. He and Priscilla were active in both their parish, Holy Trinity, and the broader local Church. Ave believed in the incredible power of youth and became heavily involved in youth camps. “It gave him great satisfaction to watch those young men grow up in their faith,” says Priscilla, “and to see some of them end up in seminary.”

Ave also had a deep respect and appreciation for priests and seminarians. It was that profound esteem that led Ave to St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College.

In 2016, he was invited by Archbishop Richard Smith to join the foundation’s Board of Governors and to chair its Investment Review Committee. He was also an active and enthusiastic supporter of the Newman Classic Golf Tournament. His loss is deeply felt by the foundation, the seminary and the college.

“Ave had one foot in the secular world and one in the life of faith,” says Priscilla. “He melded those two beautifully.”

A successful businessman, Ave worked alongside his partners, children, suppliers, staff and clients to grow Martin Deerline and Martin Motor Sports into vibrant businesses that today employ over 500 people.

But even in business, family came first. “Ave was adamant that the businesses not be open on Sunday,” says Priscilla. “The family life of his employees was very important to him.”

“He strived for integrity and authenticity in every aspect of his life. He always tried to do what was right, even if it impacted the bottom line,” says Priscilla. When asked to describe what kind of man he was, Priscilla says simply: “Ave was a righteous man.”

Eternal rest grant unto Ave, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.