Apr 7, 2014

Springfield Diocese welcomes interim building consultant


 

REGIONAL

Story and photo by Rebecca Drake

 

SPRINGFIELD – Russell Sprague, a longtime employee of A.R. Green and Son in Holyoke, has been hired by the Springfield Diocese as its interim building consultant.

Sprague, a Brimfield resident, replaces Richard Wilk, whose unexpected death on Feb. 4 saddened diocesan employees and pastors who found Wilk’s advice and expertise to be invaluable as they completed various church and school building projects.

Sprague will serve on an interim basis for an estimated six-month time period as the diocese and its Building Commission conduct a search for a permanent building consultant.

“He was a class act,” Sprague said of Wilk, his predecessor in the diocesan position and former colleague at A.R. Green and Son.

Sprague himself brings considerable experience and expertise to the building consultant position. A native of Monson, he said he developed an interest in the field of construction at a young age. He earned a degree in building construction technology at the Wentworth Institute in Boston and has worked in sewer and water treatment plant construction in both New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts. He also worked for Eastern General Contractors in Springfield, Mass., on elderly housing construction projects and projects on local military bases.

Sprague has worked for A.R. Green for the last 21 years.

As he begins his work for the Springfield Diocese, Sprague said he will strive to maintain the standards of his predecessor and friend “to make sure projects are done in the best way possible for the benefit of the diocese.”

Speaking to iobserve shortly before attending his first meeting at the diocese, Sprague shared a brief remembrance of Wilk, whom he praised as honest and fair. “Usually, you don’t tell people what you think of them,” Sprague said, “and then, suddenly they’re gone.”

But last Christmas, Sprague said, he decided to buy Wilk a Christmas present, something he hadn’t done before, to show his appreciation of his friend and colleague. He presented Wilk with a gift-boxed bottle of Jack Daniels.

“And I told him what I thought of him,” he said.