Wheaton College professor of physics emeritus Joseph Spradley, the longest-teaching professor in Wheaton College history who surprised many with his impressive physical activities as he entered his eighties, died on Tuesday, March 30. He was 83. His sister, Mary Morken, released news of his passing on her Facebook page.
Spradley taught for 55 years at Wheaton, making his career at Wheaton longer than any other professor’s. He retired from teaching physics in 2009 but remained an adjunct professor of astronomy until last year.
Current Wheaton students remember him for his habit of going to the Sports and Recreation Center on Wheaton’s campus and diving from the high-board two or three times a week.
Spradley told The Record last year that he had been diving since 1980, when the SRC pool was built, and typically dives about 10 times a week.
“At least 10 dives a week for about 500 dives each year times 35 years … that’s about 17,500 dives,” Spradley calculated in February of 2015.
Students often watched in awe as the octogenarian performed advanced dives like the “one and a half” and the “reverse flip.”
Spradley earned his Ph.D. from the University of Los Angeles in 1958 and joined Wheaton’s faculty in 1959. He also taught across the globe, including in Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and China.
At Wheaton, he was a prolific author. He published in both scientific and Christian journals, as well as championing his own textbook and collection of essays surrounding great scientific minds.
Spradley is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren, many of whom attended Wheaton College.
In February of 2015, Spradley told The Record, “Be willing to take some risks to enjoy life to its fullest. Keep active as much as possible if you want to stay young in spirit. Give thanks for God every day for all his gifts, especially the gift of life.”
According to the Daily Herald, visitation will be held at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, in Warrenville, IL on Friday, April 8 from 5-8 p.m., and at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 9 followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, any donations may be made to Daystar University (Kenya) 8011 34th Ave. South C50, Bloomington, Mn 55425 or to Action International Ministries, P.O. Box 398, Mountlake Terrace, Wa. 98043.