His Life

Ave's Funeral Mass Eulogy

Delivered by: Laurenne and Sterling Spratt

On June 12, 1961, God smirked and said to Ralph and Eva Spratt, “you better buckle up your bootstraps”.
And so started the race of a lifetime. A high-octane life lived full-throttle right up until the final lap and checkered flag. (How am I doing with my racing metaphors so far Dad?)
Dad was a born entrepreneur. A creator. A racehorse. A mover and a shaker who never quite could stand (or sit) still. Most children don’t optimize their paper routes and sell them to other kids for a small profit, but Dad did. Most teenagers don’t charge a per-car admission to their legendary high school parties, but Dad did. Most adults don’t build businesses while still putting family, faith, and friends first, but Dad did.
He grew up in Edmonton, surrounded by the love and faith of his parents, sister Idel, and brother Mitch. While I wish I could tell you more stories of his childhood, they’ve been redacted, sealed, and closely guarded with military precision, NEVER to be shared with his children. Dad, very well played, but despite your best efforts, we still have a fairly good sense of what those years looked like as evidenced by a trail of wrecked snowmobiles, crashed cars, torn up lawns, and a few unintentional story leaks from high school friends (you know who you are). We also know this because the apples sure didn’t fall far from the tree.
As a teenager, Dad worked with his father Ralph at Martin Farm Equipment as it was called at the time. His passion for John Deere started early while working alongside dear friends, although based on some of the stories I’ve heard, I’m not sure how much work was actually getting done which I’m sure Ralph was thrilled about.
In 1987, Dad married the love of his life, our mother Priscilla. Mom says she knew Dad was the one when he saved her a honey cruller donut that he absolutely would have wanted to keep for himself. And we must say, for a man that loves huge gestures and big moments, the story of his proposal doesn’t quite fit the mold and it makes us laugh to this day. It was a ringless, off the cuff, OVER THE PHONE “well, I guess we should get married”. So they did. And what a marriage it has been—34 years and a truly stunning example of love, devotion, true partnership, and living your faith through the sacrament of marriage.
During this time, Dad decided to pursue a new passion—the marine industry. He cut his teeth at Spruce Grove Marineland, before moving to Huston Leisure to start the notorious LA Ski brand—which to this day still lives on in a few sheds; the wetsuits easily spotted due to large amounts of neon which I’ve heard is starting to make a comeback. Dad always was a trendsetter.
And then of course, we came along. As our mother says, after four, what was five? After five, what was six? And then I think they may have lost count altogether and here all eight of us are. It’s difficult to capture the magic of our family and put it into words. That said, I have no doubt where that magic comes from—nothing meant more to our Dad than his wife and his children (and now children-in-law, and grandchildren), and he spent his life walking alongside each of us every. single. step of the way. He was our rock. Our patriarch. Our safe place. Our home. He was there to pick us up when we fell, dust us off a bit, and then told us to get back out there. He was there to cheer us on, and also to make sure we knew when we were out of line (and trust me, we knew). He was always down for a dance party, a car purchase, a surf lesson, or a round of karaoke. He never quite figured out text messages and still wrote them like emails, always signed with “Love, Dad”. But it didn’t matter because his messages came without fail. He showed up for each and every event to celebrate our accomplishments no matter how packed his schedule was. He taught us the value of hard work, and what it means to be fiercely loyal. He taught us the importance of faith, and the joy that comes from serving others and living for something bigger than yourself. But most of all, by living it completely, resolutely, steadfastly, and leading by example, he taught us integrity. What it means to unapologetically and unwaveringly do the right thing no matter what.
For the past twenty years, Dad was on a mission. And as every single one of us knows, once Ave Spratt wanted to do something, you best get on board or get out of the way because either way something incredible was going to happen. Anyone who has experienced being on the other side of the negotiating table with Dad (or the volleyball net for that matter), knows that he NEVER left anything on the table. He wanted to share the joy of being on the water, on the road, in the dirt, or in the mountains with as many families and individuals as possible through his passion for boats and anything else with a throttle or gas pedal. His professional life’s work was growing Martin Deerline and Martin Motor Sports alongside his partners, suppliers, staff, and clients to the vibrant businesses they are today—and the enormous number of touching notes we’ve received from his many connections who have been able to share in this joy are a tribute to his resounding success. He didn’t just build a business, he built up an entire industry across North America simply by living his passion each and every day, and doing so while rooted in faith, charity, and integrity. There was nothing he loved more than seeing families spending time together creating memories so thank you to all of you who have been part of this incredible journey.
That said, his mission in life was so much more than just business. He was 100% in it for the people. He believed in the incredible power of people working together and wanted to leave the world better than he found it. For a man who I’m not quite sure has ever finished reading a full book, he sure wrote the one on authentic leadership. He mentored so many, and changed an incredible number of lives for the better simply because he genuinely cared, took an interest in the people around him, and wanted nothing more than to see them succeed. He believed in a much larger, higher purpose and nothing he did was for himself. Each and every moment of his life was spent building others up, and he often spoke of the responsibility of leadership. Business for him was about taking care of the families who were relying on him (which is a bit astounding when he already had a family our size to take care of). He lived to entertain, to socialize, to be generous, and to learn more about the people around him. He welcomed so many to our home to enjoy lake life, skating, and of course a few epic fireworks shows along the way. Many of you have reached out with touching stories about how Dad irrevocably altered the course of your lives through his wisdom, sincerity, support, and steadfast belief in greatness. He couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of you and I know he will never stop cheering you on. Thank you for being living testaments to his kindness and generosity.
And if all of those things weren’t enough for a full and complete life—because it’s Dad, we have to add a bit more. Many of you are connected through his many hobbies, ministry work, and volunteer efforts. I want you all to know that whether it was racing, go-karting, car rallying, volleyball, waterskiing, creating fireworks shows, surfing, golfing, youth camps, the Marian Centre, Holy Trinity, the Catholic Archdiocese, Jackfish Lake, what I’m naming The Order of Perfect Hot Tub pH Levels, or the many other things I’m sure I’m missing—you helped bring so much joy to our father’s life and for that we are eternally grateful. We’re also quite certain he has been propping up Canadian Tire’s stock for a while so if you’re a shareholder we would advise you to divest because they just lost their best customer.
They say the measure of a man is the legacy he leaves behind and the things that live on long after he’s gone, and so I wanted to spend a few moments reflecting on the quite literally thousands of messages we’ve received over the past few days. They have come from all over North America, from people young and old, at different places in life, connected to Dad in different ways, but the same words are repeated over, and over, and over again. Ave was a legend. A pillar. A titan. A true gentleman. A class act. A man of faith. A man of integrity. A family man. The picture of generosity. How amazing is it that one man could be so astoundingly consistent and authentic no matter where he went or what he was doing?
He was all those things and more, and because of that we have absolutely no regrets. It’s truly incredible because his life could not have been more full. He could not have served any greater purpose. He could not have done any more. There was nothing left unsaid. So while his passing is certainly devastating and we mourn the loss of our father, husband, grandfather, brother, uncle, colleague, and friend, it’s also SO beautiful and we have such profound gratitude for the 59 years, 11 months, and 10 days that we had with him. He went exactly the way he should have—in the prime of his life, doing what he loved, his life’s work complete. He now joins our Lord in heaven and is exactly where he belongs for eternity.
In closing, on behalf of our entire family, I want to express our sincere thanks for every single message, meal, flower arrangement, favour, phone call, photo, story, thought, and prayer. While we have not been near as good as our Dad was at connecting with each one of you, each tribute has made an otherwise devastating week instantly brighter, and lifted us back up when the floor fell out from beneath our feet. Each of these acts of kindness is also beautiful way to honour Ave and the generosity he displayed all throughout his life—thank you to each of you for carrying on his legacy in this way.
St. Paul said “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
So you can rest now Dad. You won the race and we could not be more proud of you.