By SALLY KING, Valley Community Newspapers
California Middle School was the recipient of a generous gift over the winter holidays.
While students and staff had two weeks off, the boy’s gym locker room received a $13,000 facelift in honor of John Peyton Spurlock, who attended Cal Middle School in 1952.
It has been twenty years since John Spurlock passed away and his children; Katie, Bob and Dave wanted to remember their father’s warm and generous spirit with a gift to the school. John’s two grandsons also attended Cal Middle School.
“My dad was not enthusiastic academically but was passionate about sports, particularly baseball,” Katie Spurlock said. “He thought there was nothing better than the experience of being on a team where everybody encouraged each other to do their best and have fun.”
Bob said the idea of the gift came up in a discussion last October – the 20th anniversary of their father’s passing. They all agreed their dad took great joy in being around young people and their activities. As they discussed the idea of a gift, Bob said certain things bubbled up immediately.
“Our dad was generous, giving, liked kids, really rooted for them,” Bob said. “If he knew you, he was rooting for you.”
Dave remembers his dad helping a friend out who was a student at UC Davis and needed money. John gave the money to Dave’s friend and didn’t want to be paid back, he was happy he could help. Dave said his dad always took pleasure in the success of others.
“I made a personal decision to be more like my father to keep his spirit alive,” Dave said. “We all wanted to honor our dad with a permanent gift.”
John Spurlock grew up in Land Park on 10th Avenue. His parents were long-term Land Park residents who had their home built in 1940 and they remained there until 1989. John attended Cal Middle School and McClatchy High School. He played baseball while attending UC Davis and went on to receive an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business
Bob said after he and his siblings decided they wanted to donate money to Cal Middle School he discussed how the money should be spent with Principal Elizabeth Vigil.
Vigil said when she was told the Spurlock family wanted to honor their father with a gift to the school; she thought it would be nice to have something permanent put in place.
“The boy’s locker room was in horrible disrepair,” Vigil said. “ I thought this would be a good way to honor him.”
Athletic Director David Carson said the locker room had not been renovated in over 50 years. The lockers were rusty and broken. The kids would change their clothes and then take everything with them outside during P.E. because they had nowhere safe to store them. The school hired a contractor who worked with Bob to better organize the placement of the lockers. The renovation included removing half the old lockers and replacing them with brand new lockers, and repairing and painting the other half. Cal Middle School now has 124 new dress lockers, 114 new box lockers and 280 refurbished box lockers.
Carson said the students appreciate that there are enough dress lockers for each student to use during P.E. to safely store their clothes and personal belongings such as cellphones and wallets.
“This gift is exactly what we needed,” Carson said. “It came at the right time.”
The goal for the Spurlock family was to provide a gift that benefits the students, so renovating the lockers made sense and in keeping with their father’s spirit.
The Spurlock family is having a plaque placed near the entrance of the doorway to the boy’s gym. In their father’s memory it states:
“In honor of his joy for young people and enthusiastic support of their activities.”