Headshot of Lee Spradlin in 1971, wearing V.P.I. insignia on white uniform coat.
Lee Spradlin as a Hokie undergraduate and proud Highty-Tighty in 1971.

College of Natural Resources and Environment: What have you been doing since you graduated?

Lee Spradlin: In September 1973, after graduating in June, I married my “second grade sweetheart" and fellow Hokie, Kathy Dye. We stayed in Blacksburg to complete our master's degrees. In June 1975, we moved to Lewisburg, West Virginia, where I was employed as a forester for Westvaco Corporation and where our daughter was born. I took a job as an area manager for Continental Forest Industries in 1981, and we moved to Powhatan, Virginia, where our son was born. In 1988, I rejoined Westvaco as a forester, and we moved to Lynchburg, Virginia. I retired in November 2015 after a truly wonderful 40-year career as a forester. In August 2021, we moved to Lititz, Pennsylvania, to be closer to our son and his family. Throughout these years, I was active in our church, scouting, the Society of American Foresters (SAF), and the Lions Club. I am still active in our church and SAF and, for the last several years, have been active with the local Appalachian Trail (AT) clubs, primarily doing trail maintenance. I completed a 20-year section hike of the AT, summitting Mount Katahdin in August 2018. Kathy and I have made it to all 50 states and a few European counties. We hope to do more traveling and to spend as much time as possible with our four beautiful granddaughters and their parents.

CNRE: What is your fondest memory?

Spradlin: My fondest memories from college include dating Kathy and attending German Club dances and home football games together, marching with the Highty-Tighties at the inaugurations for both  Governor Linwood Holton in 1970 and President Richard Nixon in 1973, and going in to Shultz Dining Hall after band practices, playing “Tech Triumph.” Attending forestry spring camp at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center as a junior brings back many fond memories as well.

CNRE: What is the most amazing thing that you learned? What professors inspired you?

Spradlin: One of the most amazing things I learned occurred on a mountain top during a forest ecology field exercise with Professor Dick Vasey. All of a sudden, I could see how so many natural phenomena and the forestry courses I was taking were all interrelated. Other professors who inspired me were Bob Adams, who had actually worked as a forester; Al Sullivan, who was able to make even forest statistics fun; Henry Mosby, my wildlife professor, who was like listening to your grandfather tell amazing stories; Harold Burkhart, who we got to know well during spring camp; and, of course, my graduate committee members Harold Burkhart, William Leuschner, and David Wm. Smith. I did not know it at the time, but Dave Smith would become my mentor, and he and his wife Linda have been two of our very best friends for life.

CNRE: If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would tell your undergraduate self?

Spradlin: If I were to go back and do it all over again, I would tell myself, “Relax, don’t take yourself so seriously, and have more self-confidence.” I’d also say, “After graduation, be sure to become an active member of your professional society and stay connected to Virginia Tech!”