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Alwyn William (Al) Sprague was born in Colon, Panama, on December 21, 1938.  He was the second child born to Josephine and Howard Sprague who had relocated to the country of Panama during The Depression from New York City.  After three years, the family moved to the town of Balboa, located in the former Panama Canal Zone, when Howard started his employment with the United States-operated Panama Canal Company.  Sprague attended Balboa Elementary, Diablo Junior High School, and Balboa High School, all of which were American -style schools operated by the Canal Zone government.  He was not a distinguished student; when he enrolled in a high school art class, he was removed from the class for bad behavior.  His favorite hobby was, and continues to be, fishing.

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