Joseph Michael Sprauer took his first earthly breath the day after winter solstice, Dec. 22, 1964. He was embraced in love by his mother, Mary, his father Gil and his two older sisters Michele and Kat. The family rounded out with Joe’s brother Todd, who was born three years later.
Joe’s giant blue eyes and bright smile charmed everyone who met him from the start. He grew up on homegrown tomatoes, corn on the cob and fresh milk from the neighbor in St. Paul, Oregon, home of the Willamette Valley’s biggest rodeo. (He had some good stories about the clowns.)
Joe’s paternal grandfather, Carl, inspired the love of gardening down through the generations. Carl came by ship to the United States dressed as a woman with his other brothers to escape Germany before World War I began. Joe’s father, Gil, grew up as one of 12 children eating the farm-fresh food his father grew for the Mount Angel Abbey. Joe’s huge extended German family on both sides loved laughter, hard work and the Oktoberfest, with over 100 cousins living mainly in the Willamette Valley.
Joe loved the G-force of speed. He earned his first dirt bike by moving pipe and driving combine on the neighboring farms for over 1,000 hours the summer of his 12th year. Joe went on to skateboard his home-made half pipe, many pools in abandoned houses, the streets of San Francisco, and he loved the Burnside SkatePark in Portland. In the ocean, he spent untold hours surfing hidden and hard core breaks up and down the coast. He loved learning to consistently ride barrels in Costa Rica. But some of his favorite memories were surfing the heavy days out on the second point in Seaside, Oregon. He also raced his snowboard in the early days of the sport.
In the early 1990s, a longtime builder/craftsman on the Oregon coast, Johnny Lang, saw in Joe a keen mind and attention to detail, and he taught him to build homes that could stand the test of time. Joe also came from a family of healers and was a licensed massage therapist when he met his future spouse, Tracy, in 1996. They spent four years in Cannon Beach working, hiking, studying Buddhism and having their first child, Ariana. During this period Joe and Tracy stumbled into the Methow on a climbing trip and in less than 18 hours bought a lot in Lost River. He and Tracy took a leap of faith and moved to Lost River with their 10-week-old, Ari, in 2000.
They lived in the shed and treehouse that he built. In 2003 Joe and Tracy’s daughter Chloe was born during the Needle Creek Fire, and she added her bright spark and humor to the family. Joe brought his love, sense of responsibility and PE teacher nature to his role as father for his girls, who brought him joy, challenges and pride daily.
In 2007 Joe’s Polycystic Kidney Disease progressed to the end stage and he experienced the outrageous generosity of the Methow Valley community that year. His beloved friend and neighbor, Zach Huff, selflessly donated one of his perfect kidneys to Joe. With the support of family and community, Joe fully recovered from the pain and suffering of his kidney disease. In the last 14 years, after his new lease on life, he spent precious time with his family and friends having fun on the rocks and in the mountains. He spent his year of recovering from his kidney transplant building a new family home in Carlton. He continued to build and started his final company, Mountain Goat Construction.
He brought his diligence and integrity to a multitude of beautiful buildings here in the valley. He experienced epic mountain adventures on his dirt bike, on foot, on his snowboard and on belay. He took his kids out of school and his family experienced two extraordinary two-month road trips. He also loved to take Chloe and Ari on solo snowboarding road trips. He spent untold hours studying permaculture, chi gong, all things dirt bike, astrology and spiritual growth.
He also believed in the mission and work of Classroom in Bloom and helped to organize and build the greenhouse and office. He loved his annual trail-clearing in the Sawtooths with the Coulee Riders. In his last year, he grew and transformed through the pain of divorce, spent quality time with his daughters and reconnected with his love, Stacy Wagner.
Although there is a huge hole in our hearts where his absence lives, we take deep comfort in his life well-lived, the lessons he taught us along the way and the knowing that he is reunited in spirit with his sister Michele, mother Mary and dog Zoey. Ari, Chloe, Tracy, Stacy, father Gil, step-mom Nancy, brother Todd, sister Kat, nieces Bryce, Carly and Emily and everyone who loved Joe will strive to live their best lives and make Joe proud. Thank you, Joe, for being a truly wonderful person.