Barbara V. Spraker

It was a warm sunny day on August 25, 2014, that the Lord extended his hand, called her name and brought her home. Carolyn Barbara was born January 1, 1925, at home on 68 Moyer Street, in her beloved Canajoharie, NY, to Frederick H. & Martha M. (VanValkenburgh) Voght. She was named Carolyn for the woman who brought her into the world, Canajoharie’s first woman doctor, Dr. Carolyn Garlock and Barbara for her paternal grandmother. She was very proud of her big brothers, Richard C. and Willis F. Voght.

She was raised during the Great Depression and never forgot how to do something special with what you had on hand and to share with others. As an adult she was known for the many wonderful aromas of spaghetti sauce, leg of lamb or roasted chicken coming from her kitchen. There was always room for an extra plate. Her loved wiped away tears and encouraged us to continue. Her actions taught us how to think of others, to be ready ahead of time and to have faith – oh yeah, and to be organized. She was a proud member of the Canjo Class of ’42.

Barbara attended Syracuse University to be a dietician but returned home to help with the family garage while her brothers served in World War II. She also worked at that time in Beech-Nut putting together packages for the troops. Near the end of the war she worked in the kitchen of the Canajoharie Hotel, owned by Beech-Nut. She graduated from Albany Business College.

Barbara knew her future husband, Edward W. Spraker, as they grew up on the same street. After meeting again at the local grocery store their romance began with a date and ended with marriage on April 8, 1950. During their marriage Barbara worked at the Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, MA, in Albany, NY, and in Waterville, NY, before returning to Canajoharie in 1957 and to Central National Bank (initially begun as Spraker Bank in 1853 and now operated as NBT). She helped begin the farm loan department with bank officers. She was the Welcome Wagon lady; meeting with new families in town to tell them of the opportunities in education, business and community activities.

In 1974 she began teaching a class in adult education in the needle arts that eventually became a business named Spinning Wheel (Proverb 3:5-6). You were welcome for a cup of tea or to have a chance meeting on community activities. It was 1979 when then Mayor Mary Plank asked her to be the chairman for Canajoharie’s 150th anniversary celebration. It was a yearlong event that included so many from the community. Sing-Around-the-Christmas Tree in Wagner’s Square was renewed at this time.

Barbara’s love of family and country made her a proud member of the DAR, able to trace her roots back to her ancestor that fought in the American Revolutionary War. She was a member of various local women’s groups from church to community throughout all the decades of her life including Scouts, Chamber, church. She always had a story of Canajoharie, Montgomery and Schoharie counties (her mother’s family was from Sharon Springs). Barbara and Ed enjoyed our beautiful nation by going to VanValkenburgh family reunions around the country each year. She loved God, quilts, birds, Santa, history, family, and a good meal.

The passing of her husband in 1991 did not diminish her desire to continue to be active and have an interesting life. She was a woman of grit, determination and faith in spite of the loneliness of losing her husband and best friend. In 1992 she broke her ankle in many places. Dr. Vachon told her she needed to walk. She called then State Assemblyman Paul Tonko to say that we needed a bike path like other communities as there needed to be a place for all to walk or ride bikes away from the activity and danger of the highway. This began her involvement with the bike path and her position as Montgomery County Commissioner for the NY Heritage Corridor, a statewide organization to encourage local tourism. The tourist booth was built and staffed with her assistance as this time. The Montgomery County Chamber began the Barbara V. Spraker Tourism Award. What an honor that was for her. In 2002 she was awarded the Citizen of the Year Award for the Mohawk Valley.

She leaves to continue her son, George T. Spraker of Stowe, VT; and daughter, Alida S. Coulter (Kevin) of Rexford, NY; as well as family members that she expects to continue the stories of the family and community she loves. It is now your turn. Protect her “dummy light” by understanding its significance.

Barbara was young and inquisitive, then middle-aged and adept, then elderly and needed help. She had faith, determination, and love. The above is some of what she did with the dash between 1925 and 2014.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, August 29, 2014, at 10 a.m. at The Chapel of Houghtaling & Smith Funeral Home Inc., 20 Otsego Street, Canajoharie, NY. The family will receive relatives and friends on Thursday, August 28, 2014, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Canajoharie, NY.

Contributions in memory of Mrs. Barbara V. Spraker may be made to the Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 28, Canajoharie, NY 13317 or Ayres Memorial Animal Shelter Inc., 133 Hilltop Road, Sprakers, NY 12166.

Please sign the online guestbook for Mrs. Spraker at