BROOKSVILLE — The way his best friend, Dick McCleery, explained it, the quickest way to put a smile on Dr. Chancey Wallace "Chan" Springstead's face was to put a fishing rod or a hunting rifle into his hands.
The two men enjoyed frequent weekend forays that took them into the county's swampy, densely wooded west side in search of saltwater fish, deer and fowl.
"He simply loved being outdoors," said McCleery, who had known Dr. Springstead since their days at Hernando High School. "Anytime you put him in an airboat, he was in heaven."
The longtime Brooksville dentist, whom everyone called "Dr. Chan," died Saturday after a long illness. He was 86.
A native Brooksvillian, Dr. Springstead grew up at a time when few young men were certain of their future. World War II was already well under way when he suddenly left Hernando High at age 19 to join the Army. By the time he returned to Brooksville, he was a man inspired to do positive things for his hometown.
Enrolling at the University of Florida, Dr. Springstead made good enough grades that by his sophomore year he was invited to enroll in Emory University's acclaimed dental surgery doctorate program. Upon completion of his degree, he returned to Brooksville in 1952 to start a career that would last more than 40 years.
Retired Circuit Judge Jack Springstead recalled that for years his father was the city's only full-time dentist.
"If you lived in Brooksville during the 1950s and 1960s, then most likely my dad was the only dentist you saw," Jack Springstead recalled. "He enjoyed his work, and he considered most of his patients to be friends."
Dr. Springstead's son said that his father always aspired to give back to the community whenever possible and encouraged other prominent people to do the same.
Working with and inspiring the area's youth was of particular importance to Dr. Springstead. He and his brother, the late Frank W. Springstead, both served as scoutmasters in Boy Scouts for many years. In addition, Dr. Springstead was a longtime member of the Brooksville Kiwanis Club and served as lieutenant governor of the organization's state chapter.
Dr. Springstead was preceded in death by his wife, Betty, and his brother. Survivors include his sons, Jack Springstead of Brooksville and Neil Springstead of Andalusia, Ala; his sister, Elsie Springstead Howell of Concord, N.C.; two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Burial will be in the family plot at Brooksville Cemetery. Services will be private. Memorial donations may be made to the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch, P.O. Box 2000, Boys Ranch, FL 32064.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.