Preeminent Brevard County Cancer Doctor Duff Sprawls Passed Away Dec. 14 at Age 72
By Space Coast Daily // January 4, 2022
was co-founder of the Space Coast Cancer Foundation, Central Florida Humanitarian of the year
WATCH: Dr. Duff Sprawls was actively involved in church charities and countless volunteer initiatives that have impacted the lives of thousands of Brevard County cancer patients and their families. For his unselfish devotion to others, Dr. Sprawls was recognized as a Central Florida Humanitarian Award recipient.
No one was a stranger to Duff, and he built innumerable deep, lasting friendships. He was a character who loved joking and telling stories. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him and is survived by family, friends and all the lives he touched.
BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA – R. Duff Sprawls, M.D., MSSW, passed away at age 72 on December 14, 2021 into eternal life.
Dr. Sprawls was intelligent to the point of brilliant, inquisitive, inventive, gregarious, adventurous, athletic, active to the point of manic and deeply spiritual.
Even a brief summary of his academic and professional achievements, associations, activities, charitable contributions, community support and general building of deep, lasting friendships would fill volumes.
Duff was a member of Georgiana Church where he volunteered with youth programs. He was a member of the Space Coast Freewheelers Bicycle Club. In addition to cycling, he competed in triathlons and pickleball.
He loved adventures of all kinds. Accordingly, he traveled the world and enjoyed its wonders with his family. He was a proud Grampy to his four grandchildren and continually causing Grammy mischief and discontent.
Dr. Sprawls was dedicated to humanity. He was an Eagle Scout and earned the God and Country Award. He was the 2012 Central Florida Humanitarian of the year and co-founder of the Space Coast Cancer Foundation.
He contributed to innumerable civic and charitable activities. He also participated in multiple medical missions to Haiti and Central America.
Despite working more than 80 hours a week and squeezing in time for his family, Dr. Sprawls never refused a request for help from the community, and was actively involved in church charities and countless volunteer initiatives that have impacted the lives of thousands of Brevard County cancer patients and their families.
He graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and completed internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of South Florida. That’s also where he finished a Medical Oncology Fellowship at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
Dr. Sprawls could be described as a people person and his caring and compassion for his patients and concern for the well-being of others is evident.
“We’re part of the community, it helps all of us go forward,” Dr. Sprawls said. “Charity and generosity makes me feel good.”
Growing up with a father who was a career military officer, Dr. Sprawls identified with his father’s concern for those serving under him. He also became committed to volunteering through the Boy Scouts and listening to his church minister, who advocated a life of faith and service to others.
It’s a tradition Dr. Sprawls believed in, whether it’s helping a cancer patient find resources to make financial ends meet or flying off to Haiti to lend a hand to the efforts of Dr. Paul Farmer, one of the founders of Partners
In Health, an international health and social justice organization that treats tuberculosis and AIDs victims in the Third World.
He also made time to volunteer with Christian Services International, and in 2006 Dr. Sprawls helped co-found the Space Coast Cancer Foundation, which was the fundraising and charitable arm of the Space Coast Cancer Center and housed a comprehensive network of services that allowed patients to concentrate solely on recovery.
Through events such as the annual Daffodil Gala in Brevard County Sprawls raised thousands of dollars to help the foundation provide patient transportation, direct financial assistance to offset the cost of pain and anti-nausea medication and any other support needs related to cancer.
He’s was also known to reach out to drug and pharmaceutical companies to help eligible patients with free chemotherapy programs.
Through his efforts, the foundation offered 10 educational scholarships for oncology nurses at each area hospital in Brevard County. The scholarship program provided oncology nurses financial resources for the expense of attending courses to maintain their oncology and chemotherapy certifications.
Dr. Sprawls’ wife, Kem, was almost always at his side at the many charitable events and organizations for which he volunteered. Kem shares his belief in helping the less fortunate by devoting time, talent and treasure to causes that help the less fortunate.
He said he had few hobbies and interests because his job afforded no time for those pursuits, but when he hears of someone in need of assistance, he would juggle his hectic schedule in order to help. Those sort of positive interactions with people were his priority.
“My basic philosophy is the Dr. Richard Levine rule,” Dr. Sprawls said. “He says put your patients first and everything else will be OK. I do the same with everything I do in my life. I simply like doing things for other people.”
No one was a stranger to Duff, and he built innumerable deep, lasting friendships. He was a character who loved joking and telling stories. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him. Duff is survived by family, friends and all the lives he touched.
A celebration of life is yet to be scheduled. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Hospice of Health First.