The new park sign was dedicated on September 25, 2009 and represents eight aspects of AJ's life. See below to learn more about each panel and AJ!
AJ always wanted property to farm on after he retired from the troopers. His two loves were his farm and his being a trooper. He purchased 82 acres and planted crops to invite the game to stay on his property so we could all see the deer, turkeys, ducks , geese and fox. He adopted two retired horses who could just relax and not work any longer. He loved driving over the hill to his house and seeing the horses in the field. There was a pond on his property just behind his house and he would swim in it. I never did because there were blood suckers in the water. He was working with the DEC to put another pond on his property to welcome wild life.
Jean Sperr (AJ's Mother)
When AJ was 12 years old, he got work driving a tractor on a neighboring farm . He came home with his first paycheck saying that he was getting paid for something he would do for nothing. It was just so much fun driving the tractor at 12 years of age. His dream was to someday have his own tractor which he realized a year or so before he was murdered. I went to visit him one day and he asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I was just going to spend the day with him in whatever he wanted to do. It turned out he wanted to fix his horse fencing. He taught me to drive the tractor so I could help him. He was so excited because he taught me well and I did not drive over the fencing. He was more excited about my driving the tractor than I was.
Jean Sperr (AJ's Mother)
In 1996 Andy was a rookie NYS Trooper, having graduated form the Academy less than a year earlier. After training in Painted Post and Bath for approximately 6 months, SP Monroe was his first permanent assignment. Although it was a 6 hour trip from Rochester, we visited him as often as we could. He always went out of his way to adjust his schedule so he would be available and tried to be the perfect host to his Mom & Dad while visiting.
He was particularly concerned with providing his Dad with a good fishing or hunting experience, maybe in payment for introducing him to the wonderful world of the outdoors he loved so much.
One particular fall weekend, he was determined to be my guide and help me get the proverbial Big Tom. It wasn't as if I had never hunted turkeys before. I had even gotten a few on my own! But we spent several beautiful fall days searching some of his favorite spots. He assured me there were lots of birds, since he had scouted them thoroughly in anticipation of our trip together. But two days resulted in not a sighting, even though conditions were ideal. His disappointment was obvious that he was unable to deliver a bird for his Dad.
The sun was beginning to dip toward the western horizon when he suddenly said, Dad, stop!. Coming over the ridge a short distance away were two nice toms, heading for their roost tree.
I quickly and quietly slid down with my back against a large oak. AJ knelt on the back side and quietly coached me as the birds approached, whispering instructions into my ear. It was an easy shot and a clean kill. The 24 year-old Trooper was more excited than a little kid, certainly more excited than his Dad. It was one of many great outings we had together and contributed to a closeness that grew better with time.
Andy Sperr (AJs Father)
Ten Point Buck
Remembering AJ . . .
This is the time of year that I miss AJ the most . . . hunting season. Although AJ and I did a lot of hunting together, it was always the deer hunting - bow hunting - that we enjoyed the most together. We shared some very memorable hunts together . . . including his 2 biggest bucks which are now a part of the Memorial Park's history.
The first and bigger buck came about 8 years ago as AJ took a morning stand - my favorite stand at the time (I always tried to get AJ a deer when he came up so he always was put in the best of my stands.) - the tree we called the "cherry tree". At about 8:00 am a buck came down the trail from the west as they usually did in the morning and presented AJ with a perfect broadside shot at 10 yards - the arrow found it's mark and the deer ran into the nearby swamp. At 9:30 am when I came to get him he had that big grin on his face that told me we were in for a dragging job. AJ very excitedly replayed the events to me . . . and then proceeded to tell me that he shot the first big buck to come by, but that 2 minutes later an even larger buck walked past his tree. Unfortunately, with only one tag in his pocket he had to let the bigger buck pass. I don't think that I've ever seen AJ as excited as he was when he related the size of that second buck to me. When we recovered the deer he had shot - it was a 7x5 (7 points on one side, 5 on the other) that scored in the 130's. His biggest to date with gun or bow. You can visit this buck anytime at Troop E headquarters in Canadaigua. The shoulder mount was donated to Troop E headquarters by the Sperr Family.
AJ's second largest buck came several years later - out of the same tree no less. This buck's shoulder mount was donated to the Horseheads' barracks by the Sperr Family. The 10 point rack on the monument at the park averages the 2 deer . . . 12 pointer + 8 pointer / 2 = 10 pointer.
My most memorable hunt with AJ was in December just prior to his death. It was late in the year - the final week of the second bow season and AJ wanted to "fill his freezer". AJ and I did not get to hunt alot that year due to his travels to New Orleans in the aftermath of the storm. We decided that I would do a one man push to AJ - just trying to get the deer to move slowly past AJ in the tree. The push would take me about an hour and it was pretty cold out - fresh snow on the ground, lots of deer sign. When I finally finished the push and walked towards AJ in the tree, one again, there was that shit eating grin of his. I looked around and saw a big doe only 30 yards from his stand - dead on the ground. As I walked up (AJ still in the tree), I congratulated him - it was a very big doe. Once again the grin came to his face, and he stated "That's the small one." Pointing to the north he said "There's the big one." Sixty yards away lay another dead doe - this one a monster as well. What's neat about this . . . the previous year AJ shot a doe out of the same tree that was as big as I've seen to date - we had it aged at the DEC office in Avon at approximately 11.5 years old . . . both of the deer AJ had just shot were bigger. AJ wanted to "fill his freezer" . . . well he certainly had accomplished that task in very short order.
Unfortunately - that was my last hunt with AJ. Bow season starts again in a week . . . it'll never be the same without AJ by my side.
Bill Sperr (AJ's brother)
AJ's father Andy installed several wood duck boxes around Sperr Memorial Park.
When it came to the outdoors, there was something AJ and I shared that was an unspoken truth between us. Two grown men don't outwardly admit to the simple fact that going fishing together was more than just that. We shared something beyond the water and the fish...it was the adventure.
Our earliest excursions going fishing proved that we were not the bass experts that we both proclaimed to be, so we worked on our childhood-acquired, bullfrog-catching techniques. This resulted in many frog leg recipes in Jeans kitchen, and we were lucky to never hear her complain.
We found adventure in every trip out and it always went beyond fishing. Sandy Creeks outlet to Lake Ontario always supplied us with exciting small mouth bass action, but we always ended up heading upstream to look for carp or go swimming in the shallows. No matter where we were there was always another way to enjoy our time outdoors together.
Braddock's Bay was a regular destination and many times when the fishing was poor we would get in the water and clam dive. Casey would sit in the boat and watch as we competed to catch the largest clam or the greatest quantity. Braddock's also offered us large snapping turtles to bow hunt. I still have the turtle carapaces and probably will never part with them.
Cooper's pond was a favorite between us and if the large mouths were not biting then we were catching painted turtles. If the turtles were gone then we were chasing carp in the shallow channels. The adventure was always there.
Black Creek was one of our favorite destinations, probably because it was so different and challenging in many ways. It was the one destination that we obsessed over catching the northern pike and it eluded us almost every time. And, if the fish eluded us then we were out of the canoe competing with each other to catch the biggest crayfish. Grabbing crayfish never got old and was always good fun.
So, if I were to say AJ taught me anything about fishing, it would be to simply enjoy the time spent together. It would be that two grown men should never forget the boys inside them and to always go after the adventure that presents itself, no matter how small. It's not the big moments I miss most about being AJs friend, it's the small ones.
I am an incredibly lucky man to have lived my life with AJ in it for so many years.
Tim R. (AJs Friend)
Trooper with K-9 Sperr
K-9 Sperr was named after AJ. Click the K-9 link above to learn more about him and see some photos.
AJ and child
AJ loved children and wanted some of his own which never happened. He would drive 2 hours to Rochester to see his god daughter receive a brownie medal and then drive back home. He talked to his god son almost every night to be close to him. He put a playground in his backyard even though he had no children. He never realized his dream of being a father.
Jean Sperr (AJ's Mother)
AJ with Uncle Tom installing wood duck box