GOLDEN, MS – Olen Howard Sparks was born June 18, 1928 in Kirkville, MS to Angelo and Olga Scott Sparks. He went home to be with the Lord on September 14, 2016. Howard loved God and loved his family. He was a faithful member of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. He was employed by Blue Bell in Belmont, MS for over twenty years and Sunshine Mills in Red Bay, AL for over twenty years.
His work ethic gained the respect of many. His faith influenced everyone. His children and grandchildren were taught to have their faith in Jesus Christ, to love their family and to maintain integrity and honesty. He loved to celebrate with his family under the oak trees where he married the love of his life, Reba Mae Payne. Friday nights were a joyous occasion spent with his children and grandchildren while enjoying the delicious hamburgers prepared by Reba. After retirement, Howard and Reba had their special breakfast table at Sparks Drive Inn.
Howard enjoyed his John Deere tractor and growing purple hull peas. When a stroke took his mobility on May 10, 2014, he exemplified his will and determination to continue to live and spend time with his family by continuously working to regain his strength.
He never let a family member leave his presence without telling them that he loved them. He had many phrases that will influence his family for many generations, such as “The truth sounds the same way every time you tell it”. He left many happy and wise footsteps for his family and friends to follow.
Services will be Friday, September 16, at 4 p.m. at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, Belmont, MS with Bro. Glenn Bridgmon and Bro. Smith Lilley officiating. Burial will be in New Bethel Cemetery, Belmont, MS. Deaton Funeral Home, Belmont, MS will be in charge of arrangements.
Survivors are one daughter – Maxanne Graham (David) Golden, MS; two sons – Dicky Sparks (Joan) and Jeff Sparks (Alicia) all of Golden, MS; nine grandchildren – Matthew Graham (Rachelle), Stephen Graham, Timothy Graham (Melissa), Jordan Graham (Karen), Jessica Lilley (Smith), Julie Russell (Ryan), John Sparks (Whitney), Nathaniel Sparks (Fiance’-Karson Moody) and Isaac Sparks (Special Friend–Carli Bullard); eleven great-grandchildren – Thomas David Graham, Seth Charles Graham, Anna Beth Graham, Nathan Graham, Madison Sullivan, Mason Graham, Emelyn Lilley, Abigail Lilley, Walker Russell, Lewis Russell and John Howard Sparks; two sisters – Betty Moody Campbell and Bobbie Newell (Evonne) and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Reba Sparks; his parents, James Angelo Sparks and Olga Lillian Scott Sparks; brothers and sisters, Edith Dickinson (Eugene), Jessie Sparks (Florene), Helen Long (Carl), Berdean Moody (Rass), Myrtle Johnson (Lester), Otha Sparks (Evelyn) and Johnny Sparks and brother-in-law, Raymond Moody.
Pallbearers will be Matthew Graham, Stephen Graham, Timothy Graham, Jordan Graham, John Sparks, Ryan Russell, Nathaniel Sparks and Isaac Sparks. Honorary pallbearers will be Evonne Newell, James Newell, Nicky Newell and Johnny Johnson.
Visitation will be Friday, September 16, 2-4 p.m. at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.