Paula Sporck

Paula Sporck was born July 5, 1924, in Victoria, B.C., Canada, to Ronald and Beatrice Merrix. The family moved to Oakland, California, when Paula was 12. There her father was the reverend at St. Paul’s Church, just off Lake Merritt. Growing up in Oakland, Paula became an excellent student and an avid tennis player.

She would go on to Mills College in Oakland in 1941, at age 17. In 1942, after she turned 18, she wrote a letter to her father informing him of her decision to leave college to join the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division (as she was a Canadian citizen). A summary of the letter made its way to the Oakland Tribune. The letter was titled “MILLS HONOR STUDENT, 18, TO JOIN CANADIAN AIR FORCE — Oakland Pastor’s Daughter Seeks Active War Role,” The article went on to quote Paula, “I do not wish to say to my grandchildren 50 years hence when all this war is history, that I stayed at home on a peace-time basis while everyone else went and fought for me. Rather, I want to be able to say that I, too, did my part, no matter how small.” After the completion of her service, she went back to Mills and graduated in 1946. She then went to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1949 with a master’s degree in history.

In July of 1949, she married Christian R. Sporck, originally of Saranac Lake, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She met her husband while he was doing post-doc work at Harvard University. Their eldest son, Frederick R., was born while they lived in Massachusetts. Later they would move to Teaneck, New Jersey, where their second son, David C., was born. In 1956 they would move to Burnt Hills, New York, where their third son, A. Nicholas, was born.

As her children grew up, Paula became a history teacher at Burnt Hills High School, teaching classes in history and government. She taught for 13 years, starting in 1964, and had a large impact on many of her students. She was also named teacher of the year several times. She would continue her tennis as well and generally only played against men, as they were better competition. After her youngest son graduated high school, she moved with her husband to California permanently.

In the years that followed, she and her husband would travel extensively in Europe, at times meeting with distant relatives. Since 2004, she lived in an assisted living facility and more recently a nursing facility in Los Gatos, and later Palo Alto, California. She passed away March 30, 2021, in Palo Alto. She is survived by her three sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Christian R. in 2006.