Jimmy Louis Sparks
Jimmy Louis was born on 3 April 1935, the ninth child of Robert Lee Sparks and Ebber Sloan Bostic. He was born in the residence at 24 Reservoir Street which was home for the Sparks for many years. After graduating from Cliffside High School in 1953, Jim attended Elon College, living for the first two years with his sister Betty and her husband Frank. In 1957 Jim graduated from Elon College with a B. A. degree in chemistry and biology. After graduating from Elon College Jim attended Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem for two quarters. After leaving Bowman-Gray Jim taught math and English at Mebane High School in Alamance County for the remainder of the school year, returning to teach science and English for the 1958-59 term.
On 19 July 1958 Jim married Thomasene Alice Boland (Tommie), whom he had met while attending Elon College. In June 1959 Jim accepted a position as chemist with Carolina Biological Supply Company in Elon College. Their first child, Tanya Alice Sparks, was born in Greensboro, NC on 1 July 1959. A son, Christopher David Sparks, was born in Burlington, NC on 6 May 1961. Barbara Boland Sparks, their third child, was born in Burlington, NC on 4 February 1964. Jim remained with Carolina Biological Supply Company where he was Head of Media and Reagents until May 1975. At that time he resigned to attend seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, NC, where he earned a M. Div. Degree in 1977. Jim was called to Coon’s Run Baptist Church in Shinnston, West Virginia, where he pastored for one year. He was ordained into the ministry while pastoring at Coon’s Run Baptist Church. The family then returned to Elon College where Jim pastored Unity Fellowship for two years. In 1980 he became Executive Director of Greater Piedmont Teen Challenge where he remained until January 1984. Jim accepted a position as a teacher at Turrentine Middle School in Burlington, NC and taught eighth grade science until he resigned in June 1994.
He and Tommie moved to Rutherford County in October 1994 to be near Jim’s mom and to help with her care. He served as principal at Trinity School for several months before retiring. After moving to Rutherford County Jim and Tommie made their home with Jim’s cousin, Margie Packard, in Bostic, NC. In May 1996 Jim accepted the position of interim pastor at his home church, Cliffside Baptist in Cliffside, NC, serving until October 1996. He served as interim pastor of Double Springs Baptist Church from March 1997 until December 1997. He served Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Cleveland County from January 1999 through May 1999. and later was interim pastor at Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Shelby, NC. Jim is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in the 1994, 1995 and 1996 editions.
Thomasene Alice Boland (Tommie) was born on 9 June 1938 in Burlington, NC, the third daughter of Thomas Alexander Boland and Irma Maude Fuqua. After graduating from Elon College High School in 1956, Tommie enrolled at Elon College where she earned a B. A. degree in Music and a diploma in Vocal Performance in 1959. She taught music in the Burlington City Schools for thirty years before retiring in 1990. Tommie also directed local church choirs for thirty-five years. As a music and drama teacher she has directed many musical performances through the years, traveling with her students to many states and the Bahamas. Tommie was honored as Burlington City Schools teacher of the year in 1971, is listed in Who’s Who Among Outstanding Women in America, and has been listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
After retirement Jim and Tommie enjoyed traveling, going to most of the fifty states. Jim was an avid genealogical freak and involved Tommie in his search for information.
2003 Update: In 1979 Jim’s dermatologist discovered that he had melanoma, sent him to Duke where immunotherapy was being developed and used on an experimental basis. There he had surgery and for several months was treated with this therapy.
The cancer was in remission for 23 years, said to be the longest on record at Duke. But it reappeared in 2002. In August it was diagnosed as having spread to virtually all vital organs. He lived the next three months praising God for the wonderful gift of life and reminding his family of all the joys we had shared over those years. He died on November 13, 2002, and was buried in Cliffside Cemetery.
Tommie is minister of music at Campfield Memorial Baptist Church in Ellenboro. She particularly enjoys giving programs to civic and church organizations, visiting with her family at Lake Norman and Elon and traveling with friends.
From Some of the Ancestors and Descendants of Robert Lee Sparks and Ebber Sloan Bostic by Jimmy Louis Sparks, 1999