April 8, 1930 – Feb. 3, 2008
An able counselor, mental-health expert, winsome pastor, longtime chaplain, and accomplished artist, Rev. Howard A. Sponholz passed away Feb. 3 from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome. He was 77.
Sponholz was born in Grosse Point Farms, Mich., and grew up in Detroit, where he attended grade school and intermediate school. He graduated from Eastern High School in 1948 and he enrolled in Moody Bible College, from which he graduated in 1951.
He attended the following graduate schools: Shelton College, Ridgewood, N.J.; Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pa.; Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and New York Theological Seminary (which awarded him a doctor-of-ministries degree). From 1983 to 1985 Sponholz trained in pastoral counseling at the Post-Graduate Center for Mental Health in New York City.
He was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1960, when he accepted a call to First Reformed Episcopal Church of New York. He entered ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in 1967, when he became pastor of Clara City (Minn.) Christian Reformed Church.
Sponholz married Virginia Olsen in 1954; she passed away in 1978. He married Linda Ward in 1982.
In 1972 the Sponholzes moved to Bemis, S.D., to serve the Christian Reformed congregation there. In 1976 the family returned east for Sponholz to take a Clinical Pastoral Education course at the Lutheran Medical Center of Brooklyn, N.Y.
In 1978 he became chaplain of the Cabrini Medical Center of New York, combining the work soon afterward with a chaplaincy at St. Vincent's Hospital of New York. Sponholz retired from the ministry in 1997 but remained active in a variety of pastoral work for several years.
Sponholz was a loving pastor and sympathetic counselor known for his pleasant and original ways. He had great zest for life and loved people. He was also known for his phenomenal memory—he memorized the entire book of Revelation and would at times recite from it. And he delighted many audiences with his gift of storytelling. He was an accomplished painter, mostly using oil as a medium.
Sponholz is survived by his wife Linda; by their children, Susan and David Dice, Ruthi and Camero Fruit, and Laura and Phil Drucker; and by seven grandchildren.