Township Activist Celebrates Centennial Birthday
You can get a lot done in 100 years, just ask Margaret Tuttle Sprout.
A champion of school integration in the 1940s, a researcher and editor for her husband Harold, and a long-time member of the Joint Health Commission, Ms. Sprout has seen virtually everything the 20th century and beyond have had to offer.
Ms. Sprout, who turned 100 on Friday, received visitors, friends, and press at a celebration marking the milestone birthday.
"While the family hasn't produced any great political figures or Nobel Prize winners, it has produced many community leaders," Ms. Sprout said, emphasizing her role as an active member of the Princeton community. One to which she has belonged since she and her husband, who died in 1980, moved here 72 years ago.
In attendance at the birthday party were family members, friends, Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand, Health Commissioner Norman Sissman, and other Township representatives. Mr. Sissman's presence honored Ms. Sprout's commitment for the Heath Commission. She served on the Princeton Township Board of Heath for five years and facilitated the merger of the separate Township and Borough Boards resulting in the Joint Health Commission. She served as the secretary and chairperson on the regional health commission for 21 years until her retirement in 1993, at the age of 90.
Ms. Sprout has also been a member of the League of Women Voters for 67, serving as president of the Princeton Area League from 1944 to 1946.
Sprout family friend and party organizer Joan Treiman described the work as "so thorough that it is not possible as the output of a single scholar."
The Sprouts moved to Princeton from Ohio, so Harold could pursue work as a scholar of international relations at Princeton University. He worked for the University until his retirement in 1969.
Ms. Sprout acted as a "silent" partner in his academic work.
The Sprouts subsequently co-wrote nine books on issues such as international affairs and the environment. There is an annual award named after the couple that is given each year by the International Studies Association. The award, established in 1972, recognizes books on international environmental affairs that make significant contributions to the study of international environmental policy or political issues.
The centenarian was involved with the Council of Community Services, a group that not only worked to consolidate Township and Borough school districts, but was an influential advocate for school desegregation.
She was a leader for the Cub Scouts and Campfire Girls, and played an active role in the American Field Service Committee, which brought foreign students to the states to visit the country and live with American families. One participating student who stayed with the Sprouts while visiting the University remains a close family friend.
Ms. Sprout also helped found Gray Farm Neighbors, Inc., a residential association for the neighborhood off Hartley Avenue that houses University faculty. Ms. Sprout served as chairwoman of the organization, which has since dedicated a park bench in her honor. Ms. Sprout said that the underlying motivation of her role as community member is to be a "respected, good neighbor."
Mayor Marchand capped the day with a proclamation declaring November 22 as "Margaret Sprout Day." The commemorative day, which falls one day after Ms. Sprout's actual birthday, ushers in the second century of the life of an extraordinary neighbor.