Imogene May Sperl, 93, passed away May 2 from complications of a fall at her home in LaVerkin, Utah. She was 93. The following was provided by her family.
Imogene was born March 7, 1928, in Jackson.
Imogene was the sixth of nine children born to Chloe Crandall May and Joseph A. May. She grew up in Kelly. She attended the one-room grade school at Kelly.
By the time she was ready for high school the family had moved to Jackson and she attended Jackson-Wilson High School, where she met her sweetheart for life, Bob Sperl. She was athletic and played basketball when in high school.
She married her high school sweetheart and classmate Robert (Bob) Carl Sperl on June 1, 1947, in Jackson. The union remained strong for 63 years until Bob’s passing in 2010. Four children were born to this union: Roberta Jean (Steve) Sperl Despain; Carl Bradford Sperl; Bryce Max Sperl; and Scott Baley (Tracy) Sperl.
Imogene grew up when kids raised on a ranch had to learn to take care of themselves as well as contribute to the tasks associated with keeping house, ranching, caring for children and a list of other chores. During the Great Depression she learned how to cook, sew, preserve food, grow a garden and the intricacies of innumerable other tasks. She was a quick learner with an eye for detail and excelled at everything she did. She never lost sight of her talent for creative adventures applied to daily living.
Imogene’s younger sister, Bonnie, was born premature and considered very fragile, resulting in Nana treating her “special.” Imogene, having her feelings stepped on, grew into a strong, independent and a defiant little person. If you told her “no” she’d do just the opposite. Bonnie mentioned that she was always glad that Imogene did not hate her.
The kids on the ranch were adept at not only entertaining themselves but their siblings as well. Bonnie remembered that Imogene was able to make the routine of day-to-day chores exciting and fun.
She told the story about them walking home from school and Imogene decided that they had to protect themselves from being kidnapped. She made the kids get down on their hands and knees and kept shushing them every time they tried to talk. When they got to the road she stuck her head up and surveyed the situation. When she decided that it was clear she gave the signal for them to dash across the road and then get down again on all fours. They inched their way home over a mile or so, hunkering in the irrigation ditches and fields, traveling serpentine when Imogene deemed it necessary. She even convinced Roy to climb down in a badger hole. He was little, and apparently tough as well.
When they arrived home they were covered with dirt, hay and sage stuck in their hair and clothes and looked as though they had been through a war. Nana took one look and demanded, “What happened to you?” Ross and Roy and maybe even Bonnie all tried to tell their mother about how they had escaped a kidnapper. Nana said, “You kids don’t have the sense God gave geese.” A memorable day for a simple walk home from school.
Roy remembered a time that they were floating inner tubes back when he was really too little to be near the ditch. Imogene encouraged him to go ahead and float, and when he got to the bridge where he’d have to get off, she would catch him. Well, it turned out she didn’t catch him and he remembers going under the bridge, smacking his head on each log timber as the tube scraped along the bottom of the bridge. Again, good thing he was little and tough.
Bonnie remembered that one time the folks for some reason had stored a huge amount of wheat in a bedroom in the house. Nana had buried boxes of raisins and currents in the wheat. Imogene and Bonnie would go in and dig out the raisins. They would take them to a barrel outside of the sheep shed and get down in that barrel to eat them without discovery. They kept doing this until the raisins were all gone. It seems that not only was Nana angry when she couldn’t find any raisins, but amazed that they could have absconded with that many.
Known as Imo by her siblings, Imo made up a game that was apparently played more than once. Imo would pretend that she was crazy and the younger kids would throw water on her to quell the crazy. Then when she did “come out of the crazy” she’d say, “It’d be a fine thing if I really had been crazy.” This game had just the right amount of excitement and terror to titillate the younger kids. Roy and Bonnie remembered one time when the water in the house was ankle deep.
Another rule was not to leave the ranch and stay away from the river. They rationalized that the river was OK, because their Dad fed elk there. Going to the neighbors was not really going off the ranch either and off they’d go. Russell Hines’ house always had candy and nice little sandwiches. Mrs. Clark made wonderful fried spuds.
In 1962, after Henry and Haddie May sold their place to the park, Bob and Imogene purchased the house from the Park Service for $2,000. The May house had originally been purchased from Sears and Roebuck, by James and Elizabeth May. It took $2,200 more to have it moved into town and then they furnished it, all for under $5,000. This house still survives on Kelly Street.
After a lifetime of hard work they bought a fifth-wheel trailer and began to do some traveling. They visited kids, relatives and places that were warm in the winter. They spent a winter in Mesquite, Nevada, and enjoyed it so much they sold their home in Jackson and bought a home in La Verkin, Utah, in 2004. Imogene lived there until her passing. For many years Imogene and Bob would spend winters in their home in La Verkin and summers in their trailer in Thayne.
Imogene is preceded in death by her husband, Robert (Bob) Carl Sperl; her mother and father, Joseph Andrew May and Chloe Crandall May; sisters and brothers Joseph Lynn May, Gladys May Kent, James Max May, Franklin Dell May, Norma May Nethercott and Harold Ross May.
Imogene is survived by her children Roberta Jean (Steve) Sperl Despai of Jackson and Hurricane, Utah; Carl Bradford Sperl of Nyssa, Oregon; Bryce Max Sperl of Cheyenne; and Scott Baley (Tracy) Sperl of Thayne; sister Bonnie May Budge and brother, Leroy May, along with six grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and several great-great-grandchildren.
There was a memorial at the Aspen Cemetery and a reception that followed at the home of Bonnie Budge.