SOUTH BEND - Donald E. Sporleder, 92, of Roseland / South Bend, Indiana, passed away on Friday, May 14, 2021. Donald passed away peacefully at his home with his family by his side.
Donald was born in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, on January 2, 1929, to Emil Sporleder and Selma (Botterman) Sporleder. He is survived by his brother Howard Sporleder, wife Joann (Wahl) Sporleder (married 1958 in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois) and his five children: Jonathan C. [JC] Sporleder, Paul Sporleder (Karen Lang), Todd Sporleder, Joshua Sporleder, Elizabeth Sporleder (Eugene Bang) and his eight grandchildren: Carl Sporleder, Jennifer (Sporleder) Gnott, Henry Lang-VanDerLaan, Jonathan P. [JP] Sporleder, Audrey Sporleder, Izaak Sporleder, Wellen Bang and Sereia Bang.
Donald graduated from Arlington Heights Township High School, Illinois, in 1946. He joined the United States Army in 1946, eventually attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, and served in Germany until 1948. Upon his return to the States, he remained in the Army Reserve and utilized the GI Bill to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago at Navy Pier (1948 to 1950) to study architecture. Many of his fellow students at Navy Pier became his close friends for the rest of his life. In 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, he was called back to active service in the army, this time as part of the 412th Engineer Construction Battalion stationed at Camp Carson and Yuma Test Station (1950 to 1952). After his honorable discharge from the army, Donald then graduated from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, in 1953 with a B.S. in Architecture with highest honors (Phi Kappa Phi). In 1955, he completed a Master of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, Illinois.
Donald started his professional architectural career with DUO Associates, Architects and Engineers in Chicago, and then taught at the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, as an assistant professor in architecture from 1958 to 1963. In 1958, he married Joann Wahl. Joann (also an architect) was the love of his life. Donald and Joann would remain happily married for the next 63 years of his life. In 1963, Donald and Joann moved to Roseland / South Bend, Indiana, when Donald joined the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana. Donald served as Professor of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame from 1963 to 1998, and then as Professor of Architecture Emeritus until his death in 2021. He also served as the acting Director of the University of Notre Dame, Architecture Studies Program in Rome, Italy, from 1970 to 1971, and served on the faculty of the Rome Studies Program in 1987 and 1994 to 1998. Concurrent to serving as a professor at Notre Dame, he also was Co-Principal (along with Brian Crumlish, his long-time friend and fellow Professor of Architecture) in the firm Crumlish/Sporleder & Associates, Inc., Architects, from 1965 to 1990. Examples of the many notable architectural projects include the Agricultural University in Lyallpur, Pakistan; the 100-Center Redevelopment in Mishawaka, Indiana; and the Architecture Building at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Donald then continued his architecture practice, along with Joann his wife, with their firm Sporleder/Sporleder Architects from 1990 thereafter. The firm provided professional services in the fields of architecture, planning, urban design, park-and-recreation planning, and historic preservation. Donald was a registered Architect in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and Louisiana, and served on the board of the National Council of Architectural Registration (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 2021 as a Fellow, he was awarded the AIA Indiana Gold Medal, the highest honor one can receive from the AIA.
Donald was an active volunteer for numerous non-profit, governmental and civic organizations and causes that he believed would help to improve outdoor recreational opportunities, protect and conserve the environment, preserve historically significant places, or that would otherwise help to better the community including Michiana Watershed (President); Roseland Park Board (founding member, President); Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Trails Advisory Board (Chairman); Indiana Urban Forest Council; Friends of the Saint Joseph River; St. Joseph County Parks Foundation (Vice Chairman); Indiana Rails-to-Trails (Chairman); the Northern Indiana Center for History (board); The History Museum, Copsaholm Advisory Board; Clay Township Board, Elected Member; United Religious Community Board Member; MACOG Bike & Pedestrian Committee (Vice Chairman); the Indiana Urban Forest Council (board); and the Neighborhood Resources Corporation (board). Donald also was a long-time supporter of the First Presbyterian Church in South Bend; the Izaak Walton League of America; and Ducks Unlimited. Donald initiated or otherwise was instrumental in the development of several notable project that have helped improve the community including the initial design and advocacy for the East Race Waterway in South Bend, decades of work leading to the development of local rails-to-trails and other trail systems in South Bend, and the development of many of the local parks including Bendix Woods County Park, Bonneville Mill Park, Clay Township Park, Madeline Bertrand, Oxbow Park, and the Roseland Town Park. Donald and Joann also cooked and served dinners for many years at Dismas House in South Bend. In 1988, Donald was awarded the "Sagamore of the Wabash" from Governor Robert Orr for his services for the State of Indiana.
Donald enjoyed sketching, painting, travel, Notre Dame football, and the outdoors, especially camping, cross-county skiing, and canoeing. Donald loved his family, and he especially loved camping with his family (eventually camping in almost every State of the Nation). He also loved vacationing with his family in Colorado, the Monterey Bay/Big Sur area of California; Sanibel Island, Florida; the Wahl-family farm in Ohio; and Rome, Italy.
Donald was adored as a professor, husband, father, and grandfather. He was known for his friendly and caring personality and his positive approach to life. He truly believed that one could, with effort, make the world a better place, and he worked hard to do that every day. He was an eternal optimist who was always cheerful and enthusiastic. He was always looking for the horizon line. He will be always loved and forever missed.
Visitation will be from 4:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, May 20th at the Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend IN. The funeral service will be Friday, May 21st at the First Presbyterian Church of South Bend, 333 W Colfax Avenue, South Bend, IN, with viewing at 12:00 pm and a service starting at 1:00 pm. Masks are encouraged. Donald will be laid to rest at Cedar Grove Cemetery in his beloved Notre Dame, Indiana.
The family wishes to thank all his friends, Comfort 1 Hospice and his senior care providers for the care and concern during Donald's last several months.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the St. Joseph County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America (www.izaaksb.com); the St. Joseph County Parks Foundation / The Friends of the St. Joseph County Parks (www.sjcparks.org/605/Friends-of-the-Parks); Hoosier Rails-to-Trails Council (www.indianatrails.net) and/or the Indiana Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (www.railstotrails.org/support-us/donor-info). To send online condolences visit www.kaniewski.com.
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