Barbara Spraker, an advocate and promoter of the beauty and history of Montgomery County and Canajoharie, died Monday at the age of 89.
The Canajoharie woman worked tirelessly to promote and protect the village and county she called home.
She dedicated a good deal time to designing a bike trail in the area. She felt that it was a necessary tool for people to have a place to ride bikes that was safe and away from the danger of busy streets or a highway.
In an effort to make Canajoharie an overnight destination, Spraker was instrumental in creating the Cycling the Erie Canal Tour, which attracts roughly 500 cyclists per year.
She worked with then state Assemblyman and now U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and urged him to generate funding for the project.
Tonko said that while he was campaigning for the state legislator position Spraker asked him difficult questions about what he would do to improve life in the county and the region.
“She really wanted to make sure I was the right person for the job,” he said. “Over the years we developed a great relationship and were great friends.”
“Her passion for the bike path was incredible. She worked extremely hard to acquire the resources to build the trail.”
Tonko said that she was interested in the history of the Mohawk Valley and felt it should be shown off.
Spraker was the driving force behind the development of the Canajoharie tourism booth.
The two worked together on a number of different issues, and she was “energetic as they come,” Tonko said.
“She really had a sense of place, she saw the historical value of the region,” he said. “She just knew how to get things done.”
The former Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce created an award that bears Spraker’s name. The award, dubbed the Barbara Spraker Tourism Partner Award, goes to the person within the Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce that best promotes tourism in the counties.
Gina DaBierre-Gibbs, the chamber’s tourism director, said Spraker’s efforts were critical to promoting tourism in the region.
“Her presence will be sorely missed,” she said. “She was a true advocate for the region and only wanted the best for the people of the county.”
A funeral service will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at The Chapel of Houghtaling and Smith Funeral Home on 20 Otsego St., Canajoharie. The family will receive relatives and friends today from 4-6 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Canajoharie. Contributions in memory of Barbara V. Spraker may be made to the Canajoharie Volunteer Fire Department, PO Box 28, Canajoharie, N.Y. 13317 or Ayres Memorial Animal Shelter, Inc., 133 Hilltop Road, Sprakers, N.Y. 12166.