When former Councilman Dick Dingman visited Joe Spriggs in hospice care, he found the former Vienna mayor very aware, in good spirits — and a manager and problem-solver to the very end.
"When his wife told him we found one of the elevators not working, he starts telling his wife 'We need to call so-and-so. This elevator needs to be fixed,'" said a laughing Dingman, who added Spriggs used to manage the building. "He was sitting there with an oxygen tank unable to to get up and still wanted to make sure that elevator got fixed. His wife had to tell him, 'You're no longer in charge.' But that was typical of Joe."
Spriggs, 79, died Aug. 15 in Strasburg, where he retired in 2001. He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Janet; two daughters, Marla Wood-Bury and Wendy Aguila; a son, Scott Spriggs; a stepson, Rick DeLauder; a stepdaughter, Karen Gordon; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Dingman and former Councilman Paul Lyons and their wives spent two-and-a-half hours with Spriggs just days before his death, reminiscing about everything from capsizing in a sailboat at a Municipal League convention to late-night trips to the doughnut shop after long Vienna Town Council meetings. Spriggs served as mayor for three terms, between 1970 and 1976.
The three men cast many votes side-by-side over their years on council together, but one vote sticks out for Dingman: banning smoking in the Council Chambers.
"The vote was tied three to three, and it came down to Spriggs, our chain-smoking mayor. We all sat there wondering, 'Well now what's Joe going to do?'" said Dingman, who added his votes often aligned with Spriggs'. "But he cast that vote to ban it. He knew it was the right thing to do, and that was Joe. It was beyond his own personal habits."
Spriggs, who ran Pond Roofing Company in Merrifield for more than 20 years, brought construction experience to the mayor's seat — a valuable skills set when water and sewer issues arose, Dingman said.
"He was certainly dedicated, and honest as they come. He was very open to citizen input. He cared deeply about the town. All those attributes one would hope they have in their mayor," Dingman said. "He was a very open guy and wanted to see things done right. Joe was just a delightful person to work with. I never heard a cross word from him."
What do you remember about Mayor Joe Spriggs? Share your memories in the comments section below.