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Cell Biology IT coordinator remembered
Spruill, an employee with Cell Biology and Anatomy, died in his sleep
Feb. 10. He was 36.
Laura Simmons Spruill, wife of Joshua, is a fourth-year student in the
College of Medicine. She will receive her medical degree in May.
A 1996 College of Charleston graduate, Spruill began working as a
research volunteer at MUSC in 1992 in the lab of Bobby Thompson, Ph.D.,
Cell Biology and Anatomy. He worked as a research technologist in the
same lab until 1998 when he became the information technology (IT)
coordinator for the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy working
under Thomas Trusk, Ph.D. Spruill became a member of the faculty in
2001, and provided IT support to many MUSC departments and individuals
at work and at home. He was a founding member and past president of the
MUSC IT Coordinator Group.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Laura, Samantha and
Luke Spruill Fund, in memory of Joshua Spruill, c/o any Regions Bank,
or by calling Maureen T. Runey at 852-7024. Burial for Spruill was held
Feb. 15 in Holy Cross Cemetery, James Island.
Spruill was born on April 23, 1971, in Atlanta, Ga. He was a member of
Ashley River Baptist Church. Surviving are his wife, Laura Simmons
Spruill, of Charleston; his parents, LCDR (Ret.) Ken and Gloria
Spruill, of Gainesville, Ga.; a daughter, Samantha Helen Spruill, and
son, Luke Joshua Spruill, both of Charleston; and other family members.
Josh was like a son to me, he
was a sweet man who did so much to help build our department,
especially the Molecular Morphology and Imaging facility (which we will
officially dedicate to him) and to bring all of us, especially me, into
the computer age. His loss touched me deeply.
--Roger Markwald, Ph.D.,
Professor and Chairman, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Director, Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center
Josh’s most striking
characteristic was his generosity. Usually, when you asked him
for help it was because all of your work had just turned to chaos, and
Josh had the gift of restoring that chaos to order. This reflected
intelligence and a remarkable gift for solving complex problems, but
the thing that always struck me was how much it reflected his generous
--George Cooper IV, M.D.,
Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Director,
Gazes Cardiac Research Institute
The thing that always will stay
with me about Josh was his “Let’s get it done” attitude. This
was evident in everything he did. It was also very often that the thing
he was trying to accomplish was to help another person. This was the
task that Josh excelled in, and you could tell he got great joy through
the support he gave others, but this paled in comparison to the joy he
obtained from his family. Josh always did very little complaining,
except about his diet, and was a wonderful soul who allowed the people
he interacted with to excel. I take solace in knowing his absence
cannot be filled by anyone. It is true that our main focus in this
department was on resolving other’s computer problems. However, there
are many memories Josh left me with that involved him outside of the
technical world. Helping me get my truck out of a hole in the Hagood
lot, frequent trips to surplus to “resuscitate” old computers—these are
only a few. I would also like to present the last words that Josh typed
to me. They speak volumes of how he viewed the world and his presence
in it. “It is Friday and a beautiful day.”
--Adrian Nida, Informatics
Manager/Research Associate, MUSC—GCRC
With his infectious smile and
his enabling disposition, Josh was always able to stop what he was
doing to lend a helping hand. Often, Josh solved critical
problems that left others confused. This was particularly evident as we
brought MUSC’s network infrastructure closer to a multiplatform
reality. Here in Singapore, I continue to follow many of Josh’s
--Frank Starmer, Ph.D.,
Associate Dean, Learning Technologies, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical
Josh was an exceedingly
supportive husband and father. He and Laura were truly a team as
they balanced school, work and family. When Laura completed her
graduate studies, I remarked to Josh that he must be happy to have it
behind them. Josh just grinned and said, “the best part is I get to
call her Dr. Laura!”
--Paul McDermott, Ph.D.,
Professor of Medicine/Cardiology
The entire MUSC family is deeply
saddened. Josh Spruill was greatly admired by all who worked
with him, and his promising career was cut tragically short. Our hearts
go out to his family at this most difficult time.
--Ray Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D.,
Josh’s service extended well
beyond his department. He set into place a spirit of teamwork
and a commitment to MUSC that is second to none. He always made time to
help co-workers with immediate needs, and I relied on his expertise in
graphics design many times to meet deadlines. Morning coffee and lunch
always contained many laughs to make the most impossible days better.
Missing these days meant missing his simple approach to living, working
and family. He had a keen ability to know when you were in need and
committed himself to helping with those needs. He was always thoughtful
enough to find appropriate gifts or words for special occasions. We
should all aspire to live as Josh did, with nobility and grace and the
unending commitment to friends and family.
--Mark Bulson, IT Manager,
Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Epidemiology
Joshua Spruill epitomized the
gracious, can-do spirit that is so critical to a successful creative
environment. He strengthened those around him with his
commitment, his joy of life and by simply being engaged!
--Stephen M. Lanier, Ph.D. ,
Associate Provost for Research Professor
Josh was extremely
well-respected by his colleagues and consistently went above and beyond
in his dedication to MUSC. But more than that, he was a kind
--Mary Mauldin, Ed.D.,
Associate Professor Library Sciences and Director, Center for Academic
We have been deeply saddened by
the loss of our friend and colleague, Josh Spruill. Much of the
success of our department in research and education can be attributed
to the outstanding computer infrastructure that Josh built and so
diligently maintained. This dedication to our department was surpassed
by his lovable personality, quirky wit, drive to help others and
love for his family.
--W. Scott Argraves, Ph.D.,
Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
Most of us at MUSCmet Josh
because we had some kind of computer crisis (or so we thought). Within
10 minutes of Josh’s arrival not only was our computer issue solved, we
felt like we just made a lifelong friend. A great man. A true friend.
--Steven W Kubalak, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, Cardiovascular Developmental Biology Center, Cell
Biology and Anatomy, Children’s Research Institute
Josh had organized a co-ed,
mostly-departmental team in a regional
softball league. We had our first practice a few days before our
game—this was in the week prior to his death. So we had a practice in
the evening, and maybe eight people, including me, showed up. And we
played. And when we played, we played like a bunch of adults that
haven’t played sports in quite some time—we dropped pop-ups, we booted
infield grounders, we threw wildly, we tripped and fell while chasing
balls in the outfield… it wasn’t all bad, but it was definitely kind of
ragged. I came into work the next day, and about mid-morning Josh came
into my office. He stared at me, and with this grin on his face
and eyes twinkling he says, “That was great last night, wasn’t
it?” He wasn’t trying to be facetious—he was delighting in the
fun that he’d had at the practice. What to me was a semi-hapless
softball practice was to him a great effort by his friends and a joyful
experience. That’s the thing that is the clincher for me, with Josh. He
sense of fun was… well, fun. It was infectious. He affected me, and I
think he affected a lot of other people with that spirit, brightening a
lot of lives. That’s what I think of first, when I think about Josh.
Him poking his head into my office, a mischievous smile on his
face and the gleam in his eye, and the sense of fun that he
brought with him.
--Jeremy Barth, Assistant
Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy
Josh was the most
frustrated optimist I have ever known. However, it is only in
his passing that I have come to realize why he considered himself an
while I would have labeled him a pessimist. Simply put, Josh believed
in the goodness of all people, genuinely. Although he was let down,
frequently, his constant examples of kindness, charity and piety
provided the road map by which others could follow him to a better more
caring and considerate world. Whether it was by staying up all night
helping students/faculty prepare posters or slides for meetings the
following day, or refusing to talk on a cell phone while driving
because it endangered others, or mundane daily duties like helping me
recover data I know I deleted, but forgot to back up, he did it all
without personal regard or the expectation of a simple ‘thank you’;
even though he always said ‘thank you’. Josh was so proud of being a
faculty member of MUSC, even without the numerous degrees, and wanted
the best for his family, which included every member of the MUSC
community and the Charleston, and for that he will be missed beyond
measure. I will follow his example of frustrated optimism by believing
the best of people and society in the hope of achieving his level of
certainty in his place in the hereafter.
--Jason C Mussell, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Cell
Biology and Anatomy
The Josh I knew ...was
one of the greatest human beings I have ever met in my life. We (my
wife Mirjam and our, then 1-year-old son Kevin) moved to the US from
The Netherlands in 1994. We thought that is was going to be a year or
two, but now, 14 years later, it seems unlikely that we will ever go
I do not know remember exactly when I met Josh for the first time, but
I do remember that I liked him from the moment we met. I can truly say
that his presence, certainly in the “early years” when we had to get
settled, made our transition to the us easier.
Why was Josh so likeable?
I guess we all have our own answers (and many of them) to that question.
I know that I won't be able to put everything that I really want to say
on “paper”. Even as I am sitting here, behind one of the many computers
that he configured for me, thoughts and memories are racing through my
mind that I don't really know how to channel. Thus, what I will do is
to try to give my own answers, which, I believe, will likely reflect
many of the sentiments that others have as well.
First of all, Josh was always there if and when you needed him.
That was, of course, true for his many years as our departmental IT
Gopher. I am sure that I, and with me many others, must have driven him
nuts on more than one occasion with our ignorance of computer “stuff”.
However, no matter the simplicity (or magnitude) of the problem, he was
there to solve it, whether it was a “virally infected” computer, the
rescue of corrupted files, or figuring out which mouse would work best
to alleviate numbness in my right hand when working on the computer
with a regular mouse.
Then, you also could count on him as a friend if you needed help and/or
advice on a more private level. He helped us on several occasions
moving things from one location to another. There are a few special
events that have somehow left a permanent impression in my memory when
thinking about Josh.
It was probably about 11 years ago (1996-1997) that, with Josh and
Steve as the driving forces, a Departmental Softball Team was formed.
For unexplainable reasons, Mirjam and I were asked to join the team. As
we did not have any “equipment” and did not have a clue what to buy,
Josh went with us to Walmart (on Folly Road) to explain all the
differences (as far as that was possible in WM) in gloves -
infield/outfield, baseball/softball - we finally purchased two that got
his “seal of approval” and I have used mine ever since. The games we
played that season were fun. I believe, I actually caught a ball or
two. I have, however, even better memories of Josh in relation to our
practices at the ball fields at Hagood. My oldest son Kevin was 3 years
old at the time and was, once in a while, allowed in the outfield
during batting practice. There he was often times closely guarded by
Josh and together they would chase after the balls hit their way. In
addition, Josh was also the first one trying to teach Kevin how to
swing a bat.
“Josh, help!!” was not only used at work, he came to the “rescue” in
other situations as well. About nine years ago, I decided it was time
to buy a boat …… and so I did !! However, I had never a) trailered a
boat, and b) perhaps even more important, never driven a boat. What to
do……. ? I hardly needed to ask. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, Josh
came over and together we made the Wando River unsafe territory for an
hour or so. He gave me important pointers on how to drive the boat (I
remember that he thought I was going a little too fast, given the lack
of experience) and how to get it back on the trailer. A couple years
later, he also provided helpful insights on how to cast a net and catch
shrimp. In fact, several years ago Laura and Josh joined the Wessels
clan for a “shrimping session” in Bulls Bay where, if memory serves me
well, the harvest was a little disappointing.
Then there was short period during which Josh and I battled it out on
the racquet ball and squash court. Those must have been funny to watch.
I never played racquetball before, Josh had never seen a squash ball.
This resulted in very weird running from my part on the racquetball
court (not being used to the bounce) and the perhaps even funnier dives
from Josh toward the squash ball (which hardly bounces at all).
And I could go on and on …. It was with Josh that I went out on a
“real” golf course for the first time in my life. Knowing that I had
never done that before, he brought an extra polo shirt as he expected
me to show up in a collar-less T-shirt which is not considered
“appropriate” attire. His practice swings around the “tee's” are
engraved in my memory for eternity. He would “dig a few bunkers” with
his practice swings before actually stepping up to the ball to hit it
usually in the general direction of the flag.
Above all, Josh was Josh …. always there when you needed him, sometimes
a little grumpy, always ready to chat and discuss important and less
important facts of life.
If I turn my head around, I can just see him standing there in my door
opening. One hand between the door and door jamb (warned him many times
not to do that) and in his other hand a cup of coffee. Good memories
Josh was one of the most
positive person I have ever known. He always had a good attitude
in spite of dealing with another person’s emergencies. One of my
specific memories was when he informed me that Laura was pregnant with
Sam. Josh was both excited and scared at the prospect of being
responsible for raising a child. He asked my advice on how to be
a good parent. My response was essentially that because he cared so
much about being a good father, he undoubtedly would be a great father.
I know he was a great father after hearing him talk about Sam and
watching him interact with Sam over the last few years.
--Michael J. Kern, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Cell
Biology and Anatomy
Friday, Feb. 22, 2008
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