Clifford W. Sponsel born in New York June 27, 1910 passed away in Los Angeles, California December 29, 2014 at the age of 104 from Alzheimer's disease.
Clifford Sponsel was preceded in death by his father William Charles Sponsel (1885-1980), mother Laura E. Leeske Sponsel (1886-1977), first wife Helen Margaret Boston Sponsel (1907-1991) and son Hugh Frederic Sponsel (1935-1988). Survived by his son Robert Brian Sponsel, grandchildren William Sponsel, Stephanie Sponsel and his second wife Juliette Sponsel (nee Cummins).
Clifford W. Sponsel, gave millions of dollars and much of his time to support Santa Barbara-area charities. He passed away in Los Angeles where he had been living the last few months, according to Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. Previously Sponsel was medically treated in Santa Barbara and even donated heavily to a hospice organization.
Sponsel's charitable donations and dedication to service earned him many accolades, including Man of the Year honors from the foundation in 2010. Born in Cambria, New York, Sponsel was raised on a fruit farm where he developed an early affinity for automobiles. He learned to drive as a child, and quickly developed a love for working on machinery.
"These early skills have stood him in good stead both in his career as an executive in major manufacturing firms, and in his hobby as a collector, restorer, and driver of antique autos," according to his biography on the foundation's website.
Sponsel attended Northeastern University in Boston and earned his bachelor's degree at Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana, in 1931. After college, Sponsel worked for General Motors Corp., the Glenn L. Martin Company, Bell Aircraft Corp., and the Ryan Aeronautics Corp. He later started an electronics firm called Spectral Dynamics.
Sponsel moved to Santa Barbara in 1954, and almost immediately became a philanthropic leader in the community, serving on the boards and benefiting dozens of local nonprofit organizations.
"He was quite an amazing man, with a long list of accomplishments in industry and philanthropy," Gallo wrote. The foundation's board room is named after Sponsel and his wife, Juliette.
There is a large mural of hand-painted tiles depicting Sponsel's life that was designed by Juliette and dedicated in April 2012. It's titled “Giving Back: From birth through education to end of life” to reflect Sponsel’s passions, particularly his involvement with Planned Parenthood, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.
Helen Margaret Boston Sponsel
Hugh Frederic Sponsel
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