Shirley A. Sparks

Shirley Ann Walton Sparks, 90, of Geneseo, went home to her Savior, Jesus Christ on Sunday, December 20, 2020 at Hillcrest Home, Geneseo. Private graveside services will be held at Oakwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in her memory to either the Geneseo Atkinson Food Pantry, First Baptist Church, Geneseo, or ExCEL School in Atkinson. Vandemore Funeral Home and Crematory-Geneseo Chapel is in charge of arrangements.

Mrs. Sparks was born April 14,1930 in rural Bethany, Illinois, the sixth child of Thomas Bone Walton and Blanch Beatrice Ward. She was a 1948 Bethany High School graduate and graduated from Eastern Illinois State College with a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics Education in 1951.

She married the love of her life, Quentin V. Sparks December 31,1950 in Mattoon, Illinois. She spent her first years teaching in Illinois and Iowa before starting a family. She and Quentin moved to Geneseo in 1961. She returned to teaching High School Home Economics at J.D. Darnall High School in 1970. If you were fortunate to have Mrs. Sparks as a teacher, please know that teaching was her greatest joy in life and her students meant the world to her. Whether you had her for Home Economics, or later when she volunteered at Arrowhead Ranch, ExCEL, or Southwest Elementary, helping students was her calling. She was a member of First Baptist Church, Geneseo and had previously attended Grace United Methodist Church where she was a proud member of the ‘Quad Squad.’ She loved to attend Geneseo Football games and cheer on her Bachelor Living students. She and Quentin spent their retirement years traveling the United States in their RV. They had a memorable trip to Alaska, accompanied by their grandson Connor. They enjoyed spending winters in Zapata, TX. Shirley adored her grandchildren and loved spending time with them.

Shirley is survived by: sons Jeffrey Sparks, Sioux City, Ia. and James Sparks of Laramie, Wy.; daughters and sons-in-law, Janese and Dr. Glen Dust of Sullivan, Joan and Richard Lazar of Chicago, and Jill and Walt Dethlefs of Geneseo; grandchildren Kelly, Erin (Chris Jowers) and Connor Sparks (Odett Santoyo-Limon), Nicole, Haley, Audra Dust and Lauren Bodine (Michael), Lena Lazar (Brendan Bashin-Sullivan), Henry and Ella Dethlefs and great-grand daughters Alice Bodine and Wrenly Jowers.

She was proud to be a Walton and was the last living member of her immediate family. Preceding her were her parents, Bone and Blanche, siblings Doris, Howard, Hubert, Virgil, Joseph, James and Rebecca. She was so looking forward to being reunited with her beloved Quentin and daughter Julie, who also preceded her in death. Shirley loved her rhubarb patch and snapdragons. So, this summer, please grow some snapdragons and share them with friends, and eat some rhubarb crisp. That would make her smile.

Published on December 27, 2020