WHITE PINE, Mich. - The Rev. Nancy Gail Sparks, age 79, of White Pine, Michigan, passed away on Monday, March 4, 2013, at the Marquette County Medical Care Facility in Ishpeming, MI, after 27 courageous years battling Parkinson 's disease.
She was born on November 8, 1933, in Highland Park, MI, daughter to Harold and Helen (Woodward) Fox. Helen and Nancy later moved to Ontonagon after a divorce that saw Helen marrying Robert Leslie. Nancy was then adopted by Robert Leslie. Nancy was a graduate of Ontonagon High School in Ontonagon, MI. She completed studies through Gogebic Community College and Northern Michigan University. Education for service as a pastor was completed at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, though the North Central Jurisdictional Pastor's School.
Nancy was joined in marriage to the Rev. Wayne E. Sparks on November 25, 1985, in Crystal Falls, MI, at Christ United Methodist Church, where she was appointed pastor. She was also a pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Amasa at that time. After eight years, she moved to Laurium and was the Pastor at Calumet and Mohawk/Ahmeek United Methodist Churches for the next seven years. Upon retirement in 2000 Nancy and Wayne moved to White Pine, MI.
Nancy was a life member of the Order of the Eastern Star, and an Associate member of the Detroit Annual Conference United Methodist Church. She was active with the Al-Anon organization and used her experience through ministry to help many who had needs because of alcohol and drug addictions. She had an active ministry with the Barbara Gunlock Shelter Home and the Phoenix House. She was also involved with children's Puppet and Clowning Ministries. Nancy enjoyed many summers as Dean of Camp at the Michigamme Bible Camp and loved spending time at Fortune Lake Bible Camp. One of the highlights in her ministry was a trip to The Holy Land in 1992 sponsored by the Knights Templar of Michigan.
She experienced God's creations through fishing, hunting, berry picking, gardening, camping, mushrooming, and swimming. Nancy was also a WSI swimming instructor and Life Guard at the Twin Lakes State Park. One of her favorite places was on the shores of Lake Superior. These shores are where she went during times of joy and sorrow. It gave her both strength and peace throughout her life.
She was known for her swimming and waterskiing. She loved music and had an extensive flute collection from all over the world. A woman of many talents, including ice skating, art, painting, quilting, cooking, baking, and making professional wedding cakes. She also worked as a pastry chef at the Konteka Restaurant in White Pine.
Surviving are her husband Wayne Sparks of White Pine, MI; children, David Fredrickson of Littleton, CO, Dan (Suzanne) Fredrickson of Fort Collins, CO, Laura (Bob Hendrickson) Fredrickson of Negaunee, MI, Denise (Michael) Laakko of Crystal Falls, MI; stepchildren Deborah (Cameron) Lauseng of Whitmore Lake, MI, Nathan Sparks of Ypsilanti, MI, Peter (Sandra) Sparks of Dexter, MI, Bess Anne (Bob) Wonnacott of Kentwood, MI; brothers, John (Cathy Sue) Leslie of Falls Church, VA, Bernard (Mary) Fox of Oxnard, CA, sisters, Karen White of Rhinelander, WI, Catherine Sevrens of Durham, NC; 9 grandchildren, Adam (Amber) Laakko, Anna (Andrew) Abdo, Allison Laakko (Josh Malerman), Sierra Hendrickson, Brian (Chris) Cook, Matthew Fredrickson, Kyle Fredrickson, Trevor Pagani, Brittany (Pablo) Britos; and four great grandchildren.
Preceding her in death were her parents and a daughter, Diana Gosshorn.
Nancy was a woman who gave strength and inspiration to all of those she touched throughout her life. She leaves behind family and friends who carry on her love of outdoor adventure, especially the tranquility and storms of Lake Superior. Her strong spirit and eagerness for seeking the truth have been passed down to her children and grandchildren. She will live on in all our hearts and will be missed dearly.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 8 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Rockland, MI, with Pastor Bruce Steinberg, Pastor Rosemary DeHut and Pastor Michael Laakko officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service at the church. The Order of the Eastern Star will conduct a service at 10:45 a.m. A luncheon and fellowship will follow in the church hall. The Jacobson Funeral Home of L'Anse is assisting the family.
Friends may sign Nancy's guest book or send condolences at jacobsonfuneralhome.com.