Former Bay Roberts mayor Wilbur Sparkes dead at age 90
The longest serving mayor in Bay Roberts’ history has died. Edward Wilbur Sparkes, a former school teacher and principal who was also wellregarded for his athletic prowess, died Sunday, Nov. 25 at age 90.
Sparkes was first elected mayor in 1981 and remained in that position for 24 years. Current Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood, who was taught by Sparkes and went on to become a teaching colleague, offered his condolences in a tribute shared by the municipality Monday. Wood said he considered Sparkes a mentor and a friend who he’ll miss very much.
“Rest in peace Mayor Sparkes — you have served both your family and community well. God bless,” Wood wrote.
Born in Lynn, Massachusetts (his parents were working in Boston for General Electric) on Nov. 1, 1928, Sparkes moved to Bay Roberts with his family when he was four. He studied teaching at Memorial University and stayed in the profession for almost 40 years. He spent 33 of them at Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts, working the majority of those years as a principal before retiring in 1988.
Outside the classroom, Sparkes excelled sports. He was perhaps best known for his times as a pitcher with the Guards in St. John’s senior baseball in the 1950s. Sparkes kept in shape for many years and was still playing rec hockey in his 70s. He was later enshrined in the St. John’s Baseball Hall of Fame, and earlier this year he was inducted into the Town of Bay Roberts Sports Hall of Fame.
His sporting legacy lives on today through the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex, which was named in his honour following his retirement from municipal politics.
Wood was a teammate of Sparkes in slow-pitch softball.
“To say that he loved sports would be an understatement — he lived for it,” Wood wrote, noting he was also a fine coach. “Anyone who knew him or spoke to him quickly got the sense that he enjoyed playing competitively, (and) he continued playing recreationally up to only a few years ago.”
A funeral for Sparkes was held Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Central United Church in Bay Roberts.
Wilbur Sparkes died Sunday, Nov. 25. He was 90.
Bay Roberts Rovers player Wilbur Sparkes poses in the corner of John North’s rink in February 1955.