Howard Duane “Sparky” Sparks, 81, of Quinter, Kansas, passed away September 15, 2021. Duane was born in Bigelow, Kansas, January 9, 1940. He liked to point out that being born in 1940 told you his birthday, 1/9/40. When Duane earned his GED at Fort Hays State University, he scored so well that they were disappointed they could not convince him to enroll in college courses.
Duane married Marjorie Ann Fast at the United Methodist Church in Hays, Kansas, on April 22, 1967. They were married 54 years. During his lifetime, Duane worked a wide variety of jobs, doing whatever needed to be done; from waiting tables or cooking to construction, going from his eighteen years with the Union Pacific railroad, to owning his own businesses - a windshield repair franchise, a car wash and his dream job, owning a restaurant.
While his hobbies seemed to include revisions to the house on Garfield Street, he loved fishing, camping, cooking, bowling, and playing Scat with his family and friends. He was always up for a hot cup of black coffee or a good meal. His quick wit and winning smile helped him meet some pretty interesting people, including Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Dwight & Mamie Eisenhower, Robert Pope, and several famous singers. Duane has spent a day at Jimmy Dean’s house, taken a drive in Al Capone’s car, and chatted with the infamous killers of the Clutter family near Holcomb, Kansas. In the two times he waited on Johnny Carson at the Wyrum Motel in Kansas City, he made such an impression that Johnny mentioned his friend, Sparky, on the Late Show. It’s no wonder he always had a story to tell!
Duane is survived by his wife, Marjorie; his siblings Elaine Bumgardner of Udall, Kansas; Larry Sparks and wife, Barbara of Milwaukie, Oregon; Doug Flin and wife, Judy, of Denver, Colorado; Bonnie Beckman of Marysville, Kansas; Ronald Sparks and wife, Deb, of Marquette, Kansas; his children Howard Eugene Eng of Sioux City, Iowa; Scott Sparks of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; Angie Mae Sparks and Jesse York of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina; Ericka Cole and husband, Dan, of Lawrence, Kansas; Jesica Sparks and Kelvin Brown, of Mead, Colorado; Shayna Young and husband, Rob, of Greensburg, Kansas; and Hugh Sparks of Oktaha, Oklahoma; fifteen grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Duane was preceded in death by his father, Howard Chester Sparks; mother, Wilma Edra McDonald Sparks; stepmother Agatha Mae Sparks; and younger brother Riley Gene Sparks.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00am, Saturday, September 18, 2021, at the Quinter United Methodist Church, Pastor Ronda Johnson officiating.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a charity near to Duane’s heart, Ronald McDonald House Charities. Donations may be sent to Schmitt Funeral Home, 901 S. Main St, Quinter, KS 67752.