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Ocmulgee Alive! Honors YKK's Jim Spry

Oct 17, 2019 by Chris Wood, Ph.D.


The late Jim Spry (right), shown during the 2011 Ocmulgee Alive!, was one of the most enthusiastic advocates for Macon's Annual River Cleanup. YKK, as a premier sponsor, honored him during this year's event.

As the MWA, sponsors, and organizers made preparations for the 15th Annual Ocmulgee Alive! – Macon’s annual river cleanup event on Saturday Oct. 26, 2019 – they did so with heavy hearts in remembrance of Jim Spry, who has been one of the event’s long-time advocates.

James “Jim” Eldon Spry, who passed away on Friday May 24, 2019, was the Director of Engineering, Quality and Environmental at YKK, a leadership position he had held since 2013. Jim joined the company in 2007, as the Engineering Group Manager.

From the time he joined YKK USA in Macon, Jim became the face of the company in many community events and civic circles, none more so than as the point person in YKK’s premier sponsorship of Ocmulgee Alive!

YKK was one of the first sponsors of Macon’s annual river cleanup, providing monetary support and company-wide volunteers that have helped grow the event into one of the largest and most impactful Rivers Alive-affiliated cleanups in the state of Georgia. Approximately 400 people registered for the 2019 Ocmulgee Alive!

As the Director of the Engineering Center for YKK, Jim worked closely with the MWA and Mark Wyzalek, the Authority’s Director of Laboratory and Environmental Compliance. Their working relationship and friendship were key in the growth of Ocmulgee Alive!

“Jim was instrumental in making Ocmulgee Alive! an annual success,” says Wyzalek. “His direct involvement made a real difference. And his energy had a positive impact not only on fellow YKK employees but on all volunteers.”

YKK routinely provides the largest number of volunteers for Macon’s annual river cleanup, primarily due to the leadership and dedication of Jim Spry.

And he led by example, routinely getting his hands dirty and his feet wet while pulling tires, shopping carts, and all other kinds of trash from the Ocmulgee River during this annual cleanup.

At YKK and throughout his professional career, Jim had expertise in a wide array of technologies. He was a plant manager, operations manager, quality manager, and an expert in areas of the automotive industry, ISO/TS, injection, metal stamping, and environmental protection.

“Our YKK NCA companies depended on Jim’s expertise so many times, and he always came through,” says colleague and friend Lee Smith, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations for YKK. “His breadth of knowledge was amazing and irreplaceable.”

To commemorate Jim Spry’s volunteerism, leadership and dedication to Macon-Bibb County and Ocmulgee Alive! annually, fellow employees donned bracelets in his memory during the river cleanup and paid tribute to him in company-wide media and communications. Wyzalek even noted that the color of this year’s Ocmulgee Alive! t-shirts were maze and blue, to reflect Jim’s love for the Michigan Wolverines, his home state school.

Jim was born on Dec. 8, 1966, in Dearborn Heights, Michigan to George and Sybil Ann Spry. He enjoyed working with small engines and spending time in the outdoors, especially canoeing and camping with family and friends.

But Jim’s first love and greatest source of joy was his family. He is survived by his wife of 20 years Hydi, and his children Matthew, Allen and Hannah.

Media Contact:
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
P: 770-757-1681

MWA Contact:
Mark Wyzalek, MWA Director of Laboratory/Environmental Compliance
P: 478-464-5678

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