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Harrell Spruill

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Information about Harrell Spruill

Profile image of Harrell Spruill

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
High School Industrial Arts Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
He Who Has, More Shall Be Added Unto It. He Who Has Not, That He Seem To Have Had Shall Be Taken Away.

Birthplace

Born:
8/18/1924
Birth Location:
Travis, North Carolina

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
High School Industrial Arts Teacher

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
He Who Has, More Shall Be Added Unto It. He Who Has Not, That He Seem To Have Had Shall Be Taken Away.

Birthplace

Born:
8/18/1924
Birth Location:
Travis
See how Harrell Spruill is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Philanthropist and educator Harrell Solomon Spruill has established programs to help young people build vocational skills for a successful life path. Spruill was born in Travis, North Carolina on August 18, 1924, to Solomon, a farmer and Georgiana, a homemaker. Spruill and his nine siblings grew up on a thirteen acre farm which his father owned. Growing up, Spruill was painfully shy and throughout his youth Spruill’s closest friends were his siblings.

Spruill graduated from Tyrell County Training School in Columbia, North Carolina in 1940. Inspired by his sister’s college degree, Spruill was determined to attend the Hampton Institute. After high school, Spruill deferred for a year to work in a wood mill to raise money for tuition. Spruill also had a work study position, and though he was thankful to have the opportunity, he longed to be a “regular” college student. In 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy where he worked as a diesel mechanic and rose to the rank of Fireman First Class and Motor Machinist Second Class. Though he saw no combat, Spruill was incredibly successful in the Navy because it allowed him to practice the values his parents instilled in him, that of education and hard work.

Following his time in the service, Spruill returned to Hampton more self assured and eager to become involved with extra-curricular activities. He joined the Omicron Social Club, and was a two time division-champion wrestler. In 1949, Spruill received his certificate in the automobile and diesel mechanics program. After returning from a training program in Chicago, Spruill saw the disrepair the farm had fallen into since his father’s death and stayed to return the farm back functional. He received his B.S. degree from Hampton in 1952. That same year, Spruill taught at Alcorn University in Mississippi. He remained there for two years. Later, he took a position at Wiley H. Bates High School in Annapolis, Maryland, where he taught industrial arts in the Anne Arundel County school system for twenty-nine years.

In 1956, under the advisement of a close friend, Spruill bought fifteen acres of land. To make his loan payments on a teacher’s salary, Spruill lived in boarding houses and cooked his own meals. Another example of his resourcefulness, Spruill had his students serviced neighborhood cars to raise funds for classroom supplies. In 1987, the State of Maryland bought his land to build a new road. With the profit from the sale, Spruill and his siblings established a scholarship in their parents’ names. The following year, Spruill bought another piece of land on Tracy’s Landing, so he could run farm programs for inner city school children. With the land that he purchased, he formed partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club and African American fraternities to use his surplus crops for fundraisers. Spruill started the Har-Pearl Foundation in 2003. Co-named after his late wife of thirty-two years, Pearl, the organization donates to various causes. Spruill is married to Annetta Spruill, and they reside on the farm at Tracy’s Landing. He has two children with Pearl: Kevin and Kecia; three grandchildren: Sarah Spruill, Jazlyn and Myles Johnson; and one step-son: Jay Pittman (Annetta’s son).

Spruill was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 26, 2008.

Harrell Spruill passed away on December 6, 2012.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Harrell Spruill's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill remembers attending the Chapel Hill Baptist Church in Columbia, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill recalls changing his name to Harrell
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill talks about his family's farm in Travis, North Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Harrell Spruill describes his likeness to his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Harrell Spruill describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Harrell Spruill describes his home in Travis, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Harrell Spruill describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill describes the kitchen in his childhood home
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill describes his siblings and their education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill recalls his summer employment
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill recalls his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill describes a typical day on his family's farm, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill describes a typical day on his family's farm, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill remembers his father's influence
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Harrell Spruill recalls attending Travis Elementary School in Travis, North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill recalls his early aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill describes his academic experiences at the Tyrrell County Training School in Columbia, North Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill remembers his father's discipline
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill recalls joining the New Farmers of America
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill recalls his father's personality
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill describes his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill recalls his time as a saw mill worker
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Harrell Spruill recalls his first year at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Harrell Spruill remembers being drafted into the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Harrell Spruill recalls his treatment at the Naval Station Great Lakes, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Harrell Spruill recalls his treatment at the Naval Station Great Lakes, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill talks about the entertainment at the Naval Station Great Lakes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill describes the racial discrimination in the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill talks about his promotions in the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill remembers the atomic bombing of Japan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill recalls returning to the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill recalls his financial support of his siblings' education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill recalls his mentors at the Hampton Institute
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Harrell Spruill remembers his estrangement from his father, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Harrell Spruill remembers his estrangement from his father, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Harrell Spruill recalls taking care of his family farm
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Harrell Spruill remembers teaching at the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill remembers teaching at the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill recalls leaving the Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill remembers his first wife, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill remembers his first wife, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill describes his teaching career in Maryland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill recalls the desegregation of the public school system
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill recalls purchasing land in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Harrell Spruill recalls buying a farm in Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Harrell Spruill recalls the urban development of Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Harrell Spruill recalls his retirement from the Anne Arundel County Public Schools
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Harrell Spruill remembers marrying his second wife
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Harrell Spruill recalls the launch of his student farm, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Harrell Spruill recalls the launch of his student farm, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Harrell Spruill describes his involvement with Sojourner Douglass College in Edgewater, Maryland
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Harrell Spruill talks about the Har-Pearl Spruill Foundation, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Harrell Spruill describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Harrell Spruill reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Harrell Spruill talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Harrell Spruill reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Harrell Spruill talks about his third wife
  • Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Harrell Spruill describes how he would like to be remembered