Daphne Gallant Sprague
December 13, 1952 – July 7, 2020
North Yarmouth, ME - Daphne Gallant Sprague, 67, died of complications from sepsis on July 7, 2020 at Mercy Hospital in Portland. Her loving family, husband David T. Sprague and son Ethan R. Spraguewere at her side. Daphne Steele Gallant was born December 13, 1952 in Waterville, Maine to Thomas and Dolores Gallant. Raised in Dover-Foxcroft, Daphne was the second of five children. She was known locally as an active member of student clubs, an honors student, an aggressive skier and a tough sports competitor. She was a gifted pianist and was hired at the age of 15 to be the organist for the Baptist Church. She was chosen to attend All State Music Festival in her freshman year at Foxcroft Academy. As a junior, Daphne attended Northfield School in Northfield, MA. In August 1970 Daphne was seriously injured in a car accident that left her a quadriplegic. She spent a year in hospitals and rehabilitation before returning home where she quickly caught up on her education and graduated with honors in 1971 from Foxcroft Academy. Heartbroken over her inability to continue her first love of piano and confined to a wheelchair, Daphne turned to political involvement with local issues. She was one of the first 18 year olds to vote in Maine, was Treasurer of the Young Democrats, and was a delegate to the Maine State Democratic Convention. Daphne quickly came to realize that as a disabled individual she did not have access to many opportunities available to others because of physical barriers, prevailing lack of acceptance, and lack of understanding of disabilities. She was determined to change this and to be seen as more than “the girl in the wheelchair.” With the support of her family and the University, Daphne became the first quadriplegic student to live on campus at the University of Maine, Orono. Graduating from UMO in1976, she became a powerful voice for inclusion of the disabled. Upon graduation she was hired as UMO’s Coordinator of Disabled Students Program as well as an advisor to the University on campus physical disability issues. In conjunction with the Onward Program Daphne was an organizer of Maine Day, raising money for disability needs. She also provided personal counseling and tutoring for students at UMO. Today the University embraces over 1000 students with disabilities. While a student at UMO Daphne met the love of her life and soulmate, David T. Sprague. They were married on August 4, 1973 in Dover-Foxcroft and moved to North Yarmouth Maine. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Daphne continued her disability rights advocacy giving lectures and workshops, working in Augusta for the State of Maine and serving in numerous advisory roles including the Governor’s Task Force on Long Term Care for Adults, the 1980 Ad Hoc Committee on the Physically Disabled, the Governor’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, and the ADA@25 panel. Daphne was a coordinator with Alpha One, which empowers individuals with disabilities to achieve their goals for independence. Alpha One has served as a model across the nation for disability access and inclusion. Through her exceptional speaking ability and determination to move the conversation forward she was able to connect deeply with others, talk honestly about her experiences as a physically disabled person, and expand the opportunities for all the disabled people of Maine. For the past 23 years Daphne was a beloved team member at Greeley School MSAD 51. Employed as an Educational Technician for math and literacy, Daphne also oversaw and ran the popular student newspaper after school activity and she tutored privately. She often said she needed to have a purpose of value and working with her students brought great joy and meaning to her life. Well known in the community, Daphne was always very grateful for the support she and her family received. After a fire destroyed their home, the local and spiritual area communities rallied around the Spragues in a manner Daphne described as, “unique to Maine and showed how we all need the caring and kindness of a neighbor.” Daphne embraced many hobbies, including local travel, Words with Friends, gardening, cooking, the study of Eastern philosophies, and alternative healing. She taught herself to play the dulcimer. Her family and many friends will always remember her love of fun and sense of humor. She embraced inclusion in all forms and her home was open to all. The devotion between her and her husband David was inspirational and lifelong, and her favorite times were those spent with David and son Ethan. Daphne’s life exemplified her philosophy of reaching out with her heart and treating all with kindness. She will be forever missed by her family and many friends. Daphne is survived by her beloved husband David T. Sprague, loving son Ethan R. Sprague, mother Dolores S. Gallant, brothers Steven Gallant (Joyce) and Joshua Gallant (Vanessa), sisters Ashley Gallant and Kiki Gallant Scovel (Cal), and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Daphne Gallant Sprague
July 31, 2020
David and Ethan, my heart goes out to you both of you. Daphne and I worked together at the Onward Program back in the 70's. I had just arrived from Colorado to work at UMO and we quickly connected. I had many good laughs and meals with you and Daphne, worked on an accessible garden with her, and so appreciated her as a friend and colleague. I hope the pain softens over time and wonderful memories lift your spirits.
July 26, 2020
David and Ethan...Judy had shared earlier that Daphne was in the hospital, and I’m so sorry to learn of her passing. She was a special human and I’m so glad to have known her ❤️ Sending you both much love 🌹
July 24, 2020
David and Family,
I was so sorry to read of Daphne’s death.
Back in 1975, as a newcomer to Maine, I was fortunate to meet Daphne and spend many hours in her company at your Orono home and when she volunteered at the Ross Home. In addition, I was welcomed to the family home in Dover Foxcroft for my first Thanksgiving away from home. She was an inspiration back then and even more so as the years went by. May your hearts be filled with warm thoughts and memories of a life lived to its fullest.
With deep sympathy,
Pam Christian Doiron
July 22, 2020
David - I am so sorry for your loss. Take care. Connie
July 21, 2020
Dear Daphne you were such an addition to our Title 1 team at Wilson School. I have so many memories of you and your persevence during that time. You were a definite positive influence on all who knew you.
July 20, 2020
I have a memory...one of many about my friend Daphne.
I lived in Portland then. Daphne, David and Ethan still lived in the old house in North Yarmouth on North Road. Ethan was three or four and had already memorized my phone number! These were the days before cell phones. The phone rang at my house. "Chrissy!" My heart sank. "Mommy fell out of her chair!" She was outside under the apple tree. "Ethan, I will be right there. Put a blanket around Mom." I'll be right there. And I was! They were around back under the apple tree. And there was beautiful Daphne, serenely smiling with tears in her eyes. She was one of the few people I knew who could smile, cry and laugh at the same time. Ethan and I wrangled her back in the chair and slowly trudged up the tiny hill. We got into the house and placed Daphne in front of her ever present fire. We had some cocoa and tea. Ethan and I climbed into David’s old chair. I fell asleep until Dave came home. Their home was the only place, other than my home, where I felt so comfortable and safe. Thank you guys and gal. And so, to my dearest soul sister, I will sing this song:
May the longtime sunshine upon you,
All the love surround you,
And guide your way home.
July 19, 2020
Dear David and Ethan,
While we have never met, I know first hand what a special, loving, caring person Daphne was. She was my Onward counselor starting in the summer of 1977 and throughout my 2 years as a UMO student. Being from a poor, rural Aroostook County town, she guided me. Everything from how to find my way around that summer, to registering for classes, buying my books, and most of all she instilled in my the confidence to believe in myself. The night I became engaged, to another former Upward Bound/Onward student, we went to find Daphne in her office to tell her, she was so happy for us and let us use the Watts Line(free long distance line back then) to call our families to tell them! I loved her so! Please know that while I didn't see her again after getting married in 1979, I have never forgotten her and how much she helped me navigate my way, and what a dear friend she was. I am so sorry to hear she is gone, I am so glad you have each other.
Kathee and Jim Garland
July 19, 2020
I was very sorry to read of Daphne's passing. I remember her from our mutual involvement in the Young Democrats, UMaine, and state government. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.
July 19, 2020
I first met Daphne when she was the substitute teacher for my daughter, Courtney's second grade class. I was so impressed with her upbeat attitude and how she interacted with the kids. She was a life force who did not let her disability define her. People throughout Maine have lost a formidable advocate. My thoughts are with you both and the rest of your family at this time. She will be missed.
July 17, 2020
So sorry to learn of Daphne's passing. Hard to believe such a force of life has been quieted. Condolences to all.