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By Sally Vothfirstname.lastname@example.org
MT. JACKSON -- Although he hadn't been mayor in more than three decades, Jack Sperry stayed connected with his town.
Perhaps surprisingly, given his age, it was through the Internet that he kept other Mt. Jackson residents abreast of what was going on.
Sperry died of heart failure Saturday at the age of 81, his widow, Pat, said
One-time mayor in the 1970s, Sperry also had served as town manger. He sold plumbing and heating wholesale and was a Navy veteran in the latter part of World War II, Mrs. Sperry said.
"His first love, besides family, was his rescue squad and his church," she said.
Sperry joined the Mt. Jackson Rescue Squad in its second year of operation, and was a member of Mt. Jackson United Methodist Church, according to Mrs. Sperry. They arrived in Mt. Jackson in 1957.
"We moved here on a Saturday and started church on a Sunday," she said.
The couple, who had three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past Thanksgiving.
"He loved the computer," Mrs. Sperry said.
Sperry suffered from inflammatory myopathies, which caused muscle deterioration, she said.
"He couldn't walk or stand, but he had his computer and he was on that all time," Mrs. Sperry said.
Her husband had joined Facebook in recent months and had friends all over the world, she said.
Dozens of tributes were on his Facebook wall Monday evening.
Mayor Joe Williams said Sperry remained active in civic matters.
"He always wanted to know what was going on," Williams said Monday. "He would also email things out to the public so the public would know what was going on in the community."
Councilman Rod Shepherd had similar memories of Sperry.
"The two things I remember about Jack, mostly is just his devotion to civic activities," Shepherd said. "He really did a lot for the rescue squad. He did a lot for the Lions clubs.
He was very active in his church. Not only are we going to miss him, we're going to miss the example of him.
"And, the other thing about Jack was his love of the Internet. Most senior citizens are just terrified of computers, but when the Internet showed up, Jack jumped into it with both feet."
Shepherd said Sperry was helping others navigate the Web in the mid-1990s, "when the Internet was in its infancy."
Mrs. Sperry said her husband also was fond of children, dressing up as Santa Claus for the rescue squad, putting thousands of lights on the house at Christmas and carving 20 pumpkins and putting them in the yard for trick-or-treaters.
"They called him 'Jack-O-Lantern,'" she said. "He loved the town, he loved the people and everybody liked him."