For­mer Bay Roberts mayor Wil­bur Sparkes dead at age 90

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Wil­bur Sparkes died Sun­day, Nov. 25. He was 90.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Bay Roberts Rovers player Wil­bur Sparkes poses in the cor­ner of John North’s rink in Fe­bru­ary 1955.

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