Debby Hay Spradley

December 8, 1952May 19, 2019

Debby Hay Spradley, Director of Development and External Affairs at The Hockaday School, died at Clements University Hospital in Dallas, Texas, on May 19, 2019. Debby will be remembered for her boundless dedication to the people she loved and the causes she believed in. Her kind and selfless nature made her a beloved wife and mother, friend, mentor, and trusted counselor to many—perhaps hundreds. She was the embodiment of hard work, focus, and determination. Debby was smart, assertive, resilient, and strong, while at the same time feminine and beautiful. Every event and project Debby undertook was executed with perfection. Debby loved her daughters, granddaughters, and nephews beyond measure. She was truly a “third parent” to her three granddaughters. She will be sorely missed by everyone whose life she touched.

Born in Dallas, Texas, on December 8, 1952, Debby was the elder daughter of Jess and Betty Jo Hay. Debby grew up in Dallas, Texas, and attended Hillcrest High School and then Southern Methodist University, where she majored in journalism. Following her graduation from SMU, Debby began her career at the International Apparel Mart followed by the Dallas Market Center. In 1983, she opened The Hay Agency, a full-service advertising, public relations, and marketing firm, which she led for almost twenty years. After selling the core business in 2000, Debby acted as a consultant in the industry for a number of schools in Dallas and other non-profit organizations. In 2014, she became Director of Development at the Hockaday School, an institution she treasured as a parent and grandparent. Her professional role at Hockaday followed over twenty years of volunteer service to the School, having previously served as Chair of The Hockaday School Board of Trustees, President of The Hockaday Parents’ Association, and Chair of the Hockaday Annual Fund Campaign, among many other positions. Outside of Hockaday, Debby was equally devoted to the many other civic endeavors she undertook. Beginning in 2005 until her death, she served as President of the Texas Mental Health Foundation. She also served on the boards of Planned Parenthood of North Texas, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, Educational First Steps, Uplift Education, The Child Care Group, and The Dallas Assembly, among other institutions. She also previously served on the Parents’ Advisory Boards of both The University of Texas at Austin and Stanford University.

Debby Hay Spradley died peacefully in the company of her family. She was preceded in death by her mother and father, Betty Jo and Jess Hay; and her mother- and father-in-law Alice and Walter Spradley. She is survived by her husband, Webb Spradley; her two daughters, Jessica Werner Epperson and Rachel Hay Spradley; her son-in-law, Doug Epperson; her future son-in-law, Jonathan Ben-Horin; her three granddaughters, Kathryn Elizabeth Epperson, Virginia Anne Epperson, and Margaret Hay Epperson; her sister, Patty Hay; her sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Paul Bush, Anne and Charley Spradley, and Robbie and Rob Ogle; her nephews, Ronald Marshall Alex, Jess Albert Hay, Martin Webb Spradley, and Walter Bowles Spradley; and a host of cherished cousins and friends, including her devoted friends Alison Elmquist, Marcia Rafkin, Ramona Taylor, and Susan Wilson. Private family burial services will precede a memorial celebration of Debby's life scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2019, in the Sanctuary of Highland Park United Methodist Church, 3300 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas. In lieu of flowers and for anyone desiring to do so, remembrances may be made by contributing to The Hockaday School, 11600 Welch Road, Dallas, TX 75229.


  • Lying in state Tuesday, May 21, 2019
  • Memorial Service Thursday, May 23, 2019


Debby Hay Spradley

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Britten LaRue

May 20, 2019

Knowing Jessica’s family is one of the great blessings of my life. They are impeccably good and honorable, wise and true, fun and self-deprecating. I simply love them, and this loss feels harrowing and profoundly unfair. The love in this family is so fierce, so loyal, and so clear to all who witness them, they have a way of coaxing a little more love out of each of us when we’re with them. I feel both incredibly sad and incredibly grateful right now. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to all her dearest.