Sunday, October 9, 2011
Add to FacebookAdd to Twitter

Barbara Saul

Sprogell Jacobson

Barbara Saul Sprogell Jacobson died peacefully at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, the retirement community in Gwynedd, Pa., where she had lived since 2002.

She was a loving, generous woman of exceptional kindness and caring for everyone with whom she came in contact. She was the cherished daughter of the late Adele Scott Saul and Maurice Bower Saul, the founding partner of the Philadelphia law firm Saul, Ewing, Remick and Saul. She had an idyllic childhood in Rose Valley, Pa. Her adored and only sibling, Robert Maurice Saul, was the sole WWII casualty from that small community.

She was the loving mother of Prudence Sprogell Churchill (Lawrence Plummer), Carolyn Sprogell, Robert Sprogell (Dawn Wilkins) and Jonathan Sprogell (Kathryn Taylor). She was the proud grandmother of Jennifer Scott VanDenbergh (Dan Curry), Gaelen Traver VanDenbergh (Glenn Davis), James Edward Taylor Sprogell and Anne Kathryn Taylor Sprogell, and great-grandmother of Calvin and Helen VanDenbergh-Curry and Arwen VanDenbergh.

She attended several schools, including the Phoebe Anna Thorne School in Swarthmore, where the students met for class all year long on an outdoor porch. She fondly remembered brushing snow from her book as she read. In 1931 she studied piano with renowned Nadia Boulanger in Paris and that year spent school vacations in St. Paul-de-Vence in the south of France with her family. In 1933 she graduated from the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and in 1937 from Bennington College in Bennington, Vt. She was too much of a free spirit to have gone to Smith as her mother had, said a family friend.

In 1939 she married Harry Edward Sprogell, who later was the managing partner of Saul, Ewing, Remick and Saul, and they moved to a farm in North Wales, Pa. That move changed their lives forever. They joined Gwynedd Friends Meeting and became active in the Religious Society of Friends, which led to her lifelong involvement with Friends and Friends' education. She served on the William Penn Charter School Board of Overseers and was clerk of that board from 1964 to 1975. She was also a board member of Haverford College from 1974 to 1980.

In addition to Quaker education, she had a variety of responsibilities within the Society of Friends. She was a distributing trustee for the Thomas H. and Mary William Shoemaker Charitable Fund from 1967 to 2002, and the fund's secretary from 1987 to 1992. She was the first woman clerk of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends after its reunification in 1955. She served in that position from 1976 to 1978, presiding over the annual meeting of 103 Quaker meetings from parts of four states. She also worked with the Quaker United Nations office in Manhattan in the 1980s.

She and her husband, Harry, helped establish Foulkeways, the first of a series of Quaker Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the Philadelphia area, and she was a board member there from 1972 to 1985. She was also a board member at George School in Bucks County, Pa., and at Pennswood Village, the Quaker retirement community on the George School grounds.

She was most proud of winning an election in 1967 to become a participant at the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention and of having been paid for that service to the state -- the only money she ever earned, she would remind her family. She also co-authored in 1988 a biography of Thomas and Eliza Foulke of Gwynedd Meeting.

All of her life, she relished the time she spent in the summer at her family's camp in the Adirondacks at Long Lake, N.Y., which was without commercial electricity and featured a wood stove, lake bathing, and a 1928 Luders one design sailboat, which she sailed proficiently.

That camp experience helped her develop the self-sufficiency which stood her in such good stead later in life. Likewise, she spent part of most of her winters at her family's home in Key West, Fla., which she also enjoyed. There she was very active with the Friends of the Key West Library, where she served as a board member and as president of the board from 1992 to 1996. She was also active for many years as a volunteer with the Key West Literary Seminar. She also loved to play bocce, which she did up until the year she died. She usually could be counted on to win and was not happy if she did not win.

She always looked ahead to the next experience of her life with the expectation that it would be wonderful. It usually was. She lived with quiet joy and hope for everyone she knew and loved. She met all the challenges that were presented to her with dignity, "gaiety, and a quiet mind." She is mourned by her family and will be missed by family and friends.

She was predeceased by her much loved husband, Harry Edward Sprogell, in 1972, in whose honor she established the Harry Edward Sprogell Scholarship Fund at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa. Her second husband, Solomon Jacobson, with whom she spent more than 35 happy years, died in 2010.

A memorial meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, at the Community Center, Foulkeways at Gwynedd. A celebration of her life will be held in Key West this November. Notice of that celebration will be published in The Key West Citizen.

In lieu of flowers, gifts to the Heritage Fund, Foulkeways at Gwynedd, Gwynedd, Pa., are requested by the family.