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James Sparks

James Leon “Jim” Sparks, 89, of Florence, passed away at his home on Pickwick Lake Dec. 22. His family will receive friends Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Morrison Funeral Home, Tuscumbia. The memorial service will immediately follow in the funeral home chapel, with Mark Sparks officiating.

Jim was born Sept. 24, 1933, to Wiley and Lottie Sparks in Franklin County, one of five children born to the family. He was a 1951 graduate of Russellville High School, where he played end on the Tigers’ football squad.

Mr. Sparks married Fayrene Pounders of Russellville in 1952, a marriage lasting 55 years until Mrs. Sparks’ death in 2007.

Jim was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1955, initially serving in the 68th Armored Division and later transferring into the 3rd U.S. Army Food Service in Fort Benning, Georgia.

The couple welcomed three children while Jim served six years active and inactive duty. His family was very grateful for the training he received as a cook while serving with Army Food Services when he served as chief cook and meal planner for family gatherings at their home throughout the years.

After his honorable discharge from the Army, Jim and Fayrene moved their family to Sheffield, where Jim was employed as a police patrol officer. While working with the Sheffield Police Department, he also worked as an investigator and later was promoted to lieutenant.

While working full time with the police force, Jim returned to school to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and sociology from the University of North Alabama in 1973.

Upon his university graduation, he was appointed city clerk for the City of Sheffield. He retired from that position in 1995.

After his retirement, Jim and Fayrene moved to a lake property on Pickwick Lake in Lauderdale County, where they enjoyed fishing and boating, raising a large garden and tending a fruit tree orchard. The couple kept their families’ freezers and pantries well stocked from their green thumbs and days spent fishing on the Tennessee River. Their lake home was always a welcome retreat for friends and family members, especially the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who often visited.

Mr. Sparks was preceded in death by his wife, Fayrene Sparks; parents, Wiley and Lottie Sparks; and sisters, Lucille Humphries, Jean Belew and Barbara Ann Skidmore, all of Russellville; and grandson James Adam Balch, of Pass Christian, Miss.

He is survived by his children, Gail McDonnell, Florence; Mark Sparks (Melinda), Franklin, Tenn.; and Susan Balch (Jim), Muscle Shoals. He is also survived by one brother, O’Neal Sparks (Betty Jo), Russellville; one sister, Linda Underwood, Russellville; and his grandchildren, Christy Puckett (Joey), Muscle Shoals; Jennifer Thomas (Ken), Orlando; Adam Sparks, Norman, Okla.; Andrew Sparks (Joyce) Birmingham; Mary Beth Dischinger (Matt) Decatur, Ga.; Sabrina Hobbs, Huntsville; Melissa Odom, Florence; and Amanda Reeves, Rogersville. He is survived by 10 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces and nephews.

As Jim wished, he will be cremated, with his ashes joining those of his beloved wife in one of his hand-thrown pottery urns, before being scattered by their family in the Tennessee River. “When peace like a river attendeth my way … Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’”

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to your local animal shelter.

Please visit morrisonfuneralhomes.com to leave condolences for the family.

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