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Banker’s life punctuated with adventure

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Duane Wallace Sprott, 88, of Moon Township, passed away Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, at Heritage Valley Hospital in Sewickley.

Banker Duane Sprott witnessed armed robberies, oversaw thrift operations in three Western Pennsylvania communities and, for one night, slept in Harry Truman’s bed.

Duane Wallace Sprott, 88, of Moon, died Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Heritage Valley Hospital in Sewickley from lung and diabetes complications.

“He was stationed at Key West when he was in the Navy and the president’s vacation home was down there,” said his wife of 55 years, Elaine (Ehle) Sprott. “One day, a sailor asked him if he wanted to spend a night in the president’s room when he wasn’t there and he said, ‘OK!’

“He really was a great guy, a great father and people always liked him.”

A veteran of World War II, he became a teller at Coraopolis National Bank after his honorable discharge in 1947. He met his future wife there — she was a secretary — and they wed in 1959. The bank barred married couples from working in the same building, so she moved across the street to the firm’s Coraopolis Trust Co.

Mr. Sprott became an executive upon the company’s 1961 merger with Union National Bank, starting the firm’s Washington County branch and later overseeing operations in Imperial and McKees Rocks. He retired with 40 years of service, surviving four armed bank robberies along the way.

In a bizarre 1966 holdup, a man, drunk and brandishing a shotgun, entered Sprott’s Imperial branch. Told to leave, the man stumbled across the lobby until an employee slapped his weapon away. It discharged, blowing a hole in the wall. The fellow sped home, retrieved another shotgun and sat outside the bank in his car, according to news accounts.

“Someone said, ‘I think he’s back.’ The police swooped in on him, and he was holding the gun in his lap,” said Mrs. Sprott.

Born Oct. 26, 1926, in Sewickley, Sprott was the youngest of four children of Renwick and Mary Sprott, all of whom preceded him in death. A graduate of Coraopolis High School, he is survived by his wife, Elaine; daughter, Shari Harris; son, Gregg Sprott; and grandchildren, Karlee and James V. Harris and William Sprott.

A lifelong member of Mt. Nebo Presbyterian Church, Mr. Sprott served on numerous church committees. An avid bowler and softball player, he coached his son’s baseball team.

Visitation will be from noon to 2 and 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday in Copeland’s Moon Township Funeral Home, 981 Brodhead Road. Monday’s prayer recitation begins there at 9:30 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service in Mt. Nebo Presbyterian Church, 1828 Roosevelt Road in Sewickley. Burial follows in the church cemetery.

Carl Prine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or [email protected].

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