WHITE PINE - Rev. Nancy Gail Sparks, 79, of White Pine passed away on Monday, Mar. 4, 2013, at the Marquette County Medical Care Facility in Ishpeming after 27 courageous years battling Parkinson's disease.
She was born Nov. 8, 1933, in Highland Park, Mich., daughter of 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 and completed studies through Gogebic Community College and Northern Michigan University. Education for service as a pastor was completed at Garrett-Evangelical Theological in Evanston, Ill. through the North Central Jurisdictional Pastor's School.
Nancy was joined in marriage to Rev. Wayne E. Sparks on Nov. 25, 1985, in Crystal Falls, Mich. 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 pastor at Calumet and Mohawk/Ahmeek United Methodist Churches for the next seven years. Upon retirement in 2000, Nancy moved to White Pine.
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 Gundlach Shelter Home and 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 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 during her life.
She was known for her swimming and waterskiing. Nancy 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; children, David Fredrickson of Littleton, Colo., Dan (Suzanne) Fredrickson of Fort Collins, Colo., Laura (Bob Hendrickson) Fredrickson of Negaunee and Denise (Michael) Laakko of Crystal Falls; step-children, Deborah (Cameron) Lauseng of Whitmore Lake, Mich., Nathan Sparks of Ypsilanti, Peter (Sandra) Sparks of Dexter, Mich. and Bess Anne (Bob) Wonnacott of Kentwood, Mich.; brothers, John (Cathy Sue) Leslie of Falls Church, Virg. and Bernard (Mary) Fox of Oxnard, Calif.; sisters, Karen White of Rhinelander, Wis. and Catherine Sevrens of Durham, N.C.; nine grandchildren, Adam (Amber) Laakko, Anna (Andrew) Abdo, Allison (Josh Malerman) Laakko, 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 at 11 a.m. on Friday, Mar. 8 in St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Rockland with Pastor Bruce Steinberg, Pastor Rosemary DeHut and Pastor Michael Laakko officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service in 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 in L'Anse is assisting the family.
Friends may sign Nancy's guest book or send condolences at jacobsonfuneralhome.com.