A. Harold Sparks, 91, a resident of Park Centre Retirement Community, Newton, died May 13, 2013, in the Park Centre Care Center.
Albert Harold Sparks, the son of Oral Asbury and Alice Evelyn (Mace) Sparks, was born Oct. 7, 1921, in Des Moines. In 1922, he moved with his parents to their farm south of Clio, in Wayne County where he lived until 1936 when he moved with his family to Des Moines. After a brief return to Clio in 1937, he graduated from North High School in Des Moines in 1938. Over the next two years, he worked for Western Union Telegraph Company and the A & P Tea Company, both in Des Moines.
He committed his life to Christ and joined the Epworth United Methodist Church in Des Moines in 1939. In September 1940, he enrolled in Simpson College, in Indianola, from which he graduated in June 1944. During his final two years in college, he served as a student minister in United Methodist churches in Marion County.
In July 1944, he enrolled in Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. He married Elizabeth Hannah Cramer on Sept. 3, 1944, at Indianola, after which he and his bride lived in Evanston, Ill. for three years while Harold attended seminary, majoring in Christian education, and graduating in June 1947.
He received Deacon’s Orders on June 15, 1947, toward becoming a United Methodist minister, and Elder’s Orders on June 27, 1948. He became a full member of the North Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church on June 27, 1948, and served as a United Methodist pastor over a span of 41 years of ministry in Iowa.
He served as a Minister of Christian Education for two years at First United Methodist Church, Waterloo, and as a pastor at Jesup, Lime Springs/Chester, Waterloo (St. Paul’s)/Mt. Hope, Grundy Center, Sioux City (Crescent Park), Wellman and Williamsburg, retiring on June 9, 1985.
In retirement Harold lived in Newton, including nearly 21 years at Park Centre. During his retirement years, Harold immersed himself in various passions, including photography, learning to use a computer, reading and writing. He completed two books, “Speculations on Eternity,” and his life story, “Can Dreams Come True?” He was also a life-long poet. Most of his work is hosted on a website, 7decadespoetry.com. Some of his work was published in Lyrical Iowa, an annual compilation of poems by Iowa poets.
Surviving are two sons and their wives, David (Jill Helm) of Sioux City and Steven (Michelle) of Verona, Wis.; five grandchildren, Amy (Nick) Revak of Woodbury, Minn., Jonathan (Carol) Sparks of St. Jacob, Ill., Amber (Chris Backley) Sparks of Washington, D.C., Shane (Susanna) Sparks of St. Paul, Minn., and Kira Sparks and fiancé Johnny Fuchs of Madison, Wis.; and five great-grandchildren, Hannah, 7, and Jaden, 3, of St. Jacob, Ill., Elizabeth, 3, and John, 2, of Woodbury, Minn., and Finley, 1, of St. Paul, Minn. He was preceded in death by his wife, Beth; a sister, Melva Bidlack of Ann Arbor, Mich.; a brother, Gerald of Bartlesville, Okla.; and his parents.
A funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at the First United Methodist Church in Newton. The family will greet friends following the service during a coffeetime at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts to the Park Centre Good Samaritan Fund or to First United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, Newton. Pence-Reese Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.