In Memoriam: Samuel Spralls III
Professor remembered for aspirational approach to teaching and professional contributions
Samuel A. Spralls, III, a faculty member in the Department of Marketing, Hospitality and Logistics at Central Michigan University, died Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. He was 71 years old.
Spralls was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. He worked several years with Proctor & Gamble and the Johnson Products Co. before returning to school to pursue an MBA at the University of Chicago in Illinois. He later moved to Dallas, accepting a vice president of operations role with Pro-Line Corp. before starting his own hair care company, HBA International Inc. He later became chairman of the Private Industry Council, formed New Line Cosmetics, and launched several hair care products.
He realized a childhood dream of attaining a doctoral degree in marketing from Texas Tech University in 2003. After teaching there for a few years, he joined the faculty at CMU in 2006.
Colleague and department chair Richard Divine said Spralls was often considered to be CMU’s best-dressed faculty member. He said Spralls taught every class in a suit and tie, often from a higher-end designer, to set the stage for professionalism in his classroom.
“Samuel was meticulous in his preparations for classes. He set very high standards and was able to get students to produce results that they themselves did not think they could accomplish,” Divine said. “One of his former students commented that he told them he was trying to prepare them so that they could get a ‘corner office’ once they entered the work world.”
And, while he was known for the high standards he held in the classroom, he also will be remembered for his sense of humor.
“He had a fantastic laugh that filled our hallways and conference rooms,” Divine said.
Spralls felt he had benefited greatly from his experiences in college and wanted his students to make the most of their own academic journeys, Divine said. He also was particularly attentive to efforts to promote diversity and inclusion at CMU, ensuring that all students had equitable opportunities to pursue their academic goals and dreams.
“His mission in life was for others like him to benefit from education as much he had,” Divine said.
A prolific scholar, Spralls authored more than 20 publications, including an influential article in the Journal of Retailing in 2011 and his book, “Black Wealth: The Quintessential Road Map to Financial Freedom,” published in 2021. His research, which covered dozens of topics ranging from university student participation in career services programs to mobile coupon use among millennials, has been cited hundreds of times.
Divine said he had co-authored several pieces with Spralls, noting that, “the only challenge of writing with him was trying to edit down his beautifully written exhaustive literature reviews of a topic so that our submission would fit within the page limits of a journal.”
Spralls is survived by his wife, Falicia Spralls; eight children, Samuel, Simone, Dionne, Damion, Shannon, Dominick, Rory, and Sterling; two stepchildren, Thomas Green Jr. and Briana Green; four siblings, Paul, Ricky, Gloria, and Wilbert; twenty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with another on the way; and many cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends and colleagues.
An official obituary is available online at The New Pitts Mortuary webpage, and a funeral and visitation will be held Monday, Oct. 2 at the Masonic Temple Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee.