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A man spread the ashes of his wife of 64 years into their favorite Indiana lake. Then he 'dropped dead'

Jerry Davich, Post-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

On June 3, with her cremains in tow, Ralph flew from Florida to South Bend, then drove to LaPorte. He had arranged to use the boat of old friends, another married couple who still live lakeside.

"My mom's best friend, Betty Sprecher, her cohort in crime in the trio of water sports, and her husband, Dr. Sprecher," Spencer said.

On June 4, while clutching Margie's ashes, they launched the boat into the middle of the lake, toward her final resting place. Betty Sprecher placed a white peony on the water as a marker before returning to the dock.

While covering the boat, Ralph suffered ventricular fibrillation and fell into the lake.

"Dad literally dropped dead," Spencer said.

When Spencer received the call, she was making flight plans to visit her father at his Florida home for Father's Day weekend. She instead went to the lake his parents loved so dearly.


"I stood in the exact spot where dad passed," Spencer said.

She quietly took in all the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded her father in his last moments – crisp air, calm waters, blue skies, familiar boat and a beautiful view of the 140-acre lake near Soldiers Memorial Park.

"It was perfect," Spencer said. "I will forever cherish the memory of the happiness that was in my dad's voice when I talked to him just the night before."

According to the LaPorte County coroner's office, Ralph's body was retrieved from the lake by his old friend, Dr. James Sprecher, who called 911 and began CPR. Ralph was transported to a hospital where he died. He was 88 years old.


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