NEW PORT RICHEY — David Spriggs cultivated his talents like the flowers in his shop — carefully and with a perfectionist's touch.
He traveled the world gathering artifacts of glass and statues, and was known for his collection of Mola fabric art. He delighted the senses of his guests with cooking learned from his mother.
And when partners in his many civic endeavors needed floral arrangements, all they had to do was mention it to Mr. Spriggs.
Mr. Spriggs, the owner of Flowers By Gru and a past president of the West Pasco Historical Society, died Tuesday of congestive heart failure. He was 76.
Pasco County Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who knew Mr. Spriggs through his 20-year relationship with the historical society, once approached him about fall-themed floral centerpieces for a coming auction for Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind.
"He said, 'Don't worry about it,' " Mulieri said. "The next thing I knew I had 40 centerpieces. He would go over and above."
Peers at the historical society and museum knew Mr. Spriggs as a creative type who livened up displays.
For example, he came up with an idea to create replicas of street corners as they existed in the 1930s. The museum did just that, re-creating the Zane Rankin grocery store near an old shoe shop.
"As far as the museum goes, he was very innovative," said David Prace, 82, also a past president of the Historical Society. "He sort of represented a younger face compared with older people who had founded the museum, and came in with fresh ideas."
Since the mid 1980s, Mr. Spriggs turned his florist shop into a pro-bono source of decorations for boats and floats, pitching in to help with the Chasco Fiesta and other events. His civic ties ran from the Masonic Lodge and Shrine club to the Greater New Port Richey Main Street group and his college fraternity.
"Any program I put on, he was right there to help," said Historical Society pal Frances Mallett, 91, a descendant of one of Pasco's original settlers in the 1830s. Mr. Spriggs contributed flowers for table settings or sent arrangements to sick or homebound residents, she said.
At a civic fashion show organized by Mallett, organizers paused to remember active citizens who had died the previous year. Mr. Spriggs manned a large gong he had acquired on one of his travels, striking it with each name read aloud.
He made his workplace a home for seasonal workers and any of several small white dogs he brought with him to the shop. "He was a very nice, generous man," said Kim Jakey, 40, his right-hand employee. "I learned a lot from him."
David Carlton Spriggs was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of a sales manager. Cousin Jenny Mikos described Mr. Spriggs' mother as "the Martha Stewart of her time" who left behind recipes for rich but unequaled food.
He graduated from Miami University of Oxford, Ohio, in 1957 with a degree in business administration. Over the next 20-plus years he served as an administrator at business schools in Chicago, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
He never married, though he was briefly engaged in his late 20s.
Peers remember Mr. Spriggs as someone unafraid to voice his opinions, sometimes with a bit of an edge. "He could be very cutting," said Mikos, 58, of Dayton. "He was a wonderful man with a big heart, but he didn't tolerate ineptness."
Health problems, including diabetes and congestive heart failure, prompted Mr. Spriggs to reduce his civic involvement earlier this year.
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or [email protected]