John Lloyd aka “Jack” Sparks passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at home surrounded by loved ones. He was 94 years old. Born in Chicago on October 22, 1924 to John Woodruff Sparks and Aleta Matilda nee Voltz, after living in Indiana the family settled in Mattoon, IL where he graduated from Mattoon High School in 1942. He was very active in school activities including yearbook photographer, prom committee and ROTC. In 1942 he began his college studies at the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla, MO. When the United States entered WWll and the draft age was lowered to 18 he enlisted and was assigned to the nascent Army Air Corp in March 1943. John served in the European theatre as a flight engineer on B-24 bombers with the Liberandos Heavy Bomb Group based in San Pancrazio, Italy. Like many of his generation he rarely spoke of his wartime experiences, though they had a profound effect on him. After the war he returned briefly to school at Rolla prior to following Route 66 west to New Mexico in 1947, where he explored various interest including geology at UNM. Recalled to military duty during the Korean War, he returned to the service at Chanute Air Force Base. One evening while at the U.S. Grant Hotel in Mattoon, he asked Mary Lee Lumpkin to dance and he was smitten. They married in St Louis, MO in 1953 and made their home in Albuquerque. They loved to travel and shared 62 years together before her death. John worked at PNM in the right of way department before taking over Allstar Moving and Storage. He was involved in many community efforts including the Elks Club. A hard worker and willing volunteer, he served in many capacities at St. John’s Cathedral including the Vestry, on the board of the Rehab Center, and St. Martin’s Hospitality Center where he felt a strong desire to help others. He was very active in the Alvarado Neighborhood association and instrumental in protecting The Bosque and the founding of the Rio Grande Nature Center, serving as the first Chairman of the Friends of The Nature center and on the board for many years. John was a loving husband, beloved father and grandfather and adored by a host of foreign exchange students. He loved to tell stories and jokes and will be remembered for his ready smile, good humor and exemplary listening skills. John was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Lee nee Lumpkin; his eldest daughter, Mary Aleta “Molly” Sparks; his brother, Quentin Voltz Sparks; and his parents. He is survived by his children, John W Sparks, Barbara S Federico (Joseph), Christina S Duncan (Woodson) and Anne R Sparks; his grandchildren, Solène Sparks, Christian Federico, India Federico, Byron Duncan, Ila Duncan, Caleb Whitten and Zachary Whitten; sisters in law, Shirley Sparks and Peggy Keon; and many nieces and nephews and his cat “Purr”. The family wishes to acknowledge the dedicated caregivers who devoted so much time and effort to make Mary Lee and John’s last year’s comfortable. In lieu of flowers the family asks that gifts be made to the organizations which meant so much to him. The 376th HBG archive at The Briscoe Center for American History, UT Austin, St Martin’s Hospitality Center or the Rio Grande Nature Center. Cremation has taken place and A Memorial will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019, 4:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. John’s, 318 Silver SW.
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