Durham art therapist Ilene Sperling reported dead in Tennessee

From staff reportsMarch 21, 2014 

— A Durham woman reported missing was fatally struck by a car in Tennessee on Tuesday night, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The patrol suspects that Ilene Jennifer Sperling, 42, committed suicide, said Sergeant Bill Miller.

North Carolina police had described Sperling as a missing person, Miller said. On Tuesday, she crashed a car while traveling on U.S. 321 in Cocke County. Then, Sperling apparently left the vehicle and walked for four miles, Miller said.

She apparently placed herself in the road and was struck by a Subaru driven by Charles Williams, 72. No charges have been pressed in the collision. An autopsy was pending Friday night.

Sperling was a founder and the clinical director of the N.C. Art Therapy Institute, based in Durham, which promotes emotional expression through the creation of art. She recently worked with newly emigrated refugees from Burma in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, according to the institute’s website.

“It is with heavy hearts that we write to tell you about the passing of our dear friend and colleague Ilene Sperling,” the group wrote. “We love her and will miss her, and we’ll honor her memory by carrying on her amazing work.”

The Jewish Community Center in Durham will host a memorial service for Sperling on Saturday at 4 p.m., according to the art therapy instutite’s Facebook page. All are welcome to the ceremony, to be held at 1937 W. Cornwallis Road in Durham.

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