He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Cleveland.
He was born on March 28, 1933, on a farm near Doyle, Tenn. He graduated from White County High School in Sparta where he played football. He then served in the United States Army and was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. After discharge from the Army in 1956, he completed his degree from Tennessee Technological University in 1958 where he lettered on the track team.
He then began his career with the Farmers CO-OP. After briefly working at Blount Farmers CO-OP, he came to Bradley Farmers CO-OP as the CO-OP’s first manager in 1959. He served as the manager of the CO-OP until his retirement in 1994.
During his tenure, he established the CO-OP’s first location on Spring Place Road and the relocation to Blue Springs Road as the business grew. In 2004, he received the James B. Walker Cooperative Spirit Award for his tireless efforts and devotion to the CO-OP system. He was respected by many in the business and farming communities.
After his retirement, he enjoyed raising cattle, hunting and taking trips. He loved hosting late October hayrides for his friends and family to enjoy. He served on the Farm Bureau board of directors and was on the Volunteer Energy Cooperative’s VECustomers Share board of directors.
He married Mildred Sue Keathley on Nov. 29, 1963, and he loved her dearly.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Lansford Sparkman and Martha Earles Sparkman; brothers: Earl Thomas Sparkman, Frank Martin Sparkman and Joe Ben Sparkman; sister, Martha Christine Sparkman Oliphant; father-in-law and mother-in-law, James and Verta Keathley; brothers-in-law: Charles Keathley and James Keathley; and sisters-in-law: Jessie Keathley and Joyce Keathley.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 49 years, Mildred Keathley Sparkman of Cleveland; sons: Jimmy Sparkman and wife, Stephanie, their children: Tanner Sparkman and Taylor Sparkman, all of Knoxville, Jon Sparkman and wife, Libby, their children Ben Sparkman and Eli Sparkman, all of Cleveland; sisters: Nancy Ann Sparkman Bell and husband, Louis, of Chattanooga and Sarah Aline Sparkman Davis and husband, Thurston, of Morrison; sisters-in-law: Betty Sparkman, Jeannette Hills and Geneva Keathley; brother-in-law, George Oliphant; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jerry and Marise Keathley of Nashville; and several nieces and nephews.
He will be dearly missed by his family, friends and community.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, at the First United Methodist Church in Cleveland with the Rev. Lu Crandall and the Rev. Rusty Taylor officiating.
Interment will follow in the Candies Creek Cemetery with Bucky Bancroft, Lee Bancroft, Paul Godfrey, Doyle Parmer, Billy Sparkman and Glen Allen serving as pallbearers.
The family will receive friends from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Fike Funeral Home.
The family suggests memorials be made to: First United Methodist Church Building Fund, 3435 N. Ocoee St., Cleveland, TN 37312; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reference (www.lls.org) or the charity of choice.
We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the Sparkman family guest book at www.fikefh.com.