Cousins who didn’t know each other meet while at Loyola.
Cousins Reunite Thanks to Francis Hall Worker
When two first-years from out-of-state came to Loyola, they didn’t expect to find an estranged relative. But with the help of a front desk worker and their shared last name, the students discovered they were half-cousins.
Sloane Spriester and Bart Spriester Jr. called the situation a “complete coincidence.” It came about thanks to Tom Conboy, a front desk worker at Francis Residence Hall with an attention to detail.
Conboy, who graduated from Loyola in 1989 and started working at the front desk around 10 months ago, said remembering names is his speciality. He said he first noticed the last name Spriester on both Sloane and Bart Jr.’s student IDs, which led him to point out the similarity.
“It just clicked in my head,” Conboy said. “It’s not a common name like Jackson or Smith.”
Conboy said he first brought up the situation to Sloane, who said she thought it was just a joke.
“I was checking out after being checked into my friend’s room in Francis Hall and the front desk person checking me out, Tom, held up my ID and told me, ‘Sloane Spriester? Spriester like Bart Spriester?’” Sloane said.
Although confused by the situation because she had never met anyone with the same last name as her, Sloane said she assumed it was just a funny coincidence.
In the following days, Conboy said he continued to bring up the similarity when he saw either of the Spriesters, still not considering the idea they were related at all.
“I just thought they had the same last name,” Conboy said. “I try to keep a really easy-going attitude with the students, so it was just something to talk about and have a little fun.”
Bart Jr., a Francis resident, said he had discussed the situation with Conboy at the desk but didn’t give it much thought until he was approached by friends of Sloane.
The Spriesters said they started questioning if they shared familial ties after discovering they both had red hair and blue eyes. After texting back and forth and consulting their parents, the Spriesters said they discovered their fathers were half cousins — making the students half cousins.
“It was one of the craziest things, and I called my dad telling him, ‘You’re never gonna believe what just happened,’” Bart Jr. said.
Bart Spriester Sr. said the unbelievable coincidence made him confident his son chose the right school.
“When you send your child away to college, you’re hoping the best for them,” Bart Sr. said. “There’s been several signs but this being one of the strongest that Bart’s at the right place at Loyola.”
The two relatives came to Loyola from out-of-state — Sloane moving from Texas and Bart Jr. from Colorado — which, according to Sloane’s father Steve Spriester, makes the situation meant to be.
“There aren’t a lot of Spriesters out there,” Steve said. “The fact that we found another and that my daughter from San Antonio would meet another Spriester who’s from Colorado in Chicago of all places, it’s like it was supposed to happen.”
The Spriesters said their reunion conveniently fell on the week before Parents Weekend, which led the duo to organize a meetup with their families to discuss their family history over lunch.
The Spriesters recalled a feud in their lineage dating back many years, explaining why Bart Jr. and Sloane were unaware of each other’s existence. While the Spriester’s said many details of the feud are unknown, Bart Jr. said the quarrel led the families to not being on speaking terms for over 50 years.
Despite the feud, the Spriesters are excited about the reconnection, and Bart Jr. said there are already plans in the works for Sloane to meet more of his family in Chicago.
“It feels like another support system,” Sloane said. “It’s nice to have a familiar face.”
At their reunion, the Spriesters decided it was best they just refer to each other as cousins to dismiss the complications within their lineage and because their instant connection deemed the “half” title unnecessary.
Bart Jr. and Sloane said they owe their reunion to Conboy and are grateful for his involvement and talkative nature at the desk.
“I wouldn’t have ever known she existed without Tom,” Bart Jr. said. “Shoutout Tom.”
The newfound relatives said they plan to maintain a connection with each other and are excited to continue to get to know one another.
“It felt like a gift that we discovered another side of our family that we never knew about,” Steve said. “For whatever reason our families drifted apart over the years, and I think if there’s anything we can learn from our ancestors it’s that we’re not gonna let that happen again.”
Featured Image by Daphne Kraushaar / The Phoenix