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John McConnell Sparkman

June 20, 1924 ~ December 17, 2021 (age 97)


John McConnell Sparkman, 97, of Grove, OK, passed away on December 17, 2021, at his home with his children at his side.  John was born on June 20, 1924, in Springdale, Arkansas to Wiley and Norena “Ducee” Brown Sparkman.

He graduated from Grove High School in 1942.  Following graduation, John served his country at a U.S. Navy pilot. Following his discharge from the Navy, John completed his education at Northeastern State University at Tahlequah.

He began his teaching career at Wyandotte, OK, and from there he next taught and coached at Jay, OK, for several years.  He then taught at Riverton, KS prior to moving back to his hometown of Grove, OK where he taught and coached until his retirement.  John supplemented his teaching income by raising cattle, game roosters, and quail on the family farm east of Grove.

John was preceded in death by his parents, Wiley and Norena “Ducee” Brown Sparkman; his brother H.S. “Sparky” Sparkman; and his sisters, Betty Trim and Charlotte Bortz.

His is survived by his children from his marriage to Ruth Hilton Sparkman: son John Wiley Sparkman; daughter Becky Norene Sparkman; stepson Andy Lee Hilton and his wife Carol; stepdaughter Debbie Sue Littlefield and her husband, Jim.  Other survivors include grandchildren Angie Dixon, Scotty Joe Hilton, Andy Lee Hilton, Jr., Sean Hilton, Ronnie Hilton, Shannon Sergeant, Robin Ortiz, and Shane Littlefield; sister-in-law Donna Gibbs Crawford and her husband Mel; numerous great grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces.

John was a remarkable man.  Students who were taught by him remember well his disciplinary style.  John would tolerate no misbehavior in his classes and his methods of correcting classroom antics are the topic of conversations at Jay and Grove class reunions to this day.

John tried very hard to re-populate Delaware County with quail and raised and released many coveys over the years.

He was passionate about exercise and frequented the local gym three times a week with his daughter Becky.  At 90 years of age, he was extremely proud he could bench press 90 pounds.

John, Johnny, and Becky preferred to eat out and could frequently be seen enjoying a meal at various restaurants around town.

After his teaching years were behind him, John gained quite a reputation for being an accomplished dancer and could be found “boot scooting” somewhere almost every Saturday night.

John remained friends with his ex-wife Ruth, the mother of his children, and they both enjoyed many family holiday meals cooked by his stepdaughter and her husband Debbie and Jim Littlefield.  John especially enjoyed Debbie’s Italian green beans and raisin pie.

John stressed that he did not want a memorial service of any kind, and his children are honoring his request.  They ask instead that all of his family, friends and former students take a moment to remember this remarkable man who made a difference as he walked through this life and reflect on the impact he may have had on each of their lives.


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