John Robert Sparks was a Wolverine, a Tiger, a lifelong student of history and politics, a husband, a brother, and a father.
A “Michigan Man” through and through, he left his birthplace of Grosse Pointe to attend the University of Michigan and its law school. After serving aboard ship in the U.S. Navy and graduating from U of M with honors, he and his wife, Annie, traded the Mitten State for the Golden Gate. While practicing law in San Francisco and frequenting the Coliseum to watch the Oakland Athletics, (although forever remaining a Tiger at heart), John had three beautiful children with Annie: John, Sarah, and Caitlin. John loved playing catch, chess, and gin rummy with his kids, and passed down to them his love of books and music. The sudden loss of their second child, Sarah, was devastating to the family, and affected the course of their lives thereafter. In the early 80's, John and Annie went their separate ways.
Still in the Bay Area, John met Janet. They married. Once again, John would drive the length of the country, this time returning to the state of his birth. John, Janet, and their young son, Ben, came to settle in Grand Rapids. There John continued to practice law until he left his firm to open a bookstore, long one of his dreams. John spent the last years of his career as an adjunct professor, passing down his decades of legal knowledge.
John made his final move to Belding, Michigan. Although retired from professional life, he remained politically active and served on the town planning commission. He and Ben played golf at least once a week, usually for a dollar a hole. (Rarely did much money change hands.) They watched countless hours of movies and documentaries over Jet's pizza or Ben's barbequed chicken. And it was in Belding that John met and fell in love with Allie, with whom he would spend the rest of his life. For years, they lived happily with their mischievous rescue cats, Harley and Marley, the four of them cheering on the Wolverines and Tigers.
John was reunited with Sarah in February. A celebration of his life will be held at Johnson-Feuerstein Funeral Home in Belding on Thursday, May 25th from 2:00 to 4:00. Donations will benefit the Ionia County Animal Shelter. John Sparks is survived by his wife, Allie; his children, John, Caitlin, and Ben; and his sisters, Julie and Sue. They all miss him.
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