Cover photo for John Herman Sparks's Obituary
John Herman Sparks Profile Photo
1939 John 2019

John Herman Sparks

February 20, 1939 — May 14, 2019

John, the last of six children of William Watie and Gertrude (Hohenstein) Sparks, was born on the family farm in Hitchita, Oklahoma, on February 20, 1939. He passed away Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Sulphur, Oklahoma, at 80 years old.

John was very proud of being Cherokee. John’s full-blooded Cherokee grandmother, Johnsie Anna Littlejohn Sparks, enrolled herself and John’s father before the Dawes Act Roll closed in 1904. Like many others, she enrolled as a ¼ blood to avoid being assigned a government trustee to manage their affairs.

Education was very important to John’s family. While John’s father had a sixth grade and his mother an eighth grade education, his parents wanted their children to be prepared for college. His parents rented a house in Checotah and moved the children “to town” for school. John, his brothers and sisters stayed in Checotah, most often without their parents, during the week and went back to work on the farm over the weekends.

John paid for Oklahoma State University by picking fruit three summers near Bakersfield, California, and another working on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. At Oklahoma State, he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering and met Carolyn Hunt Sparks. They were married for 58 years.

After a short tenure with Westinghouse in the East, John took a job with Boeing in Wichita, Kansas. There, he built a computer the size of an 8 x 12 room to test the tail assembly of B-52 bombers. He commented years later how a computer with the same calculating power could now be held in his hand.

John also worked on the guidance system of the Gemini space program in Florida. From there, John worked at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, on the Apollo Moon landing program directed by Wernher Von Braun. He continued his career developing spy satellites and working for the Atomic Energy Commission.

When John’s father-in-law, Fred Hunt, died unexpectedly in 1970, John and Carolyn moved to Sulphur to manage the HU Ranch. For 48 years, he faithfully cared for the cattle and land that had belonged to, as John said, “Fred Hunt, the best friend I ever had.” John requested to be buried next to his best friend north of Sulphur.

In 1980 and 1982, before it was common for women to run and be elected to public office, John proudly supported his wife’s candidacy for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

John enjoyed planting corn and turnips for the wildlife at the ranch and even feeding the deer in his front yard.

He participated in several agriculture and service organizations. John long enjoyed spending time at the “coffee shop.” This was a connection to the community and his source of, sometimes, questionable information. Although the men all enjoyed the one-upmanship of insulting each other to a very high level, he greatly enjoyed their friendship.

He took pleasure in improving the genetics of his cattle herd, grafting hundreds of pecan trees and suing the government for taking his water rights to irrigate those trees.
John was a member of the Sulphur United Methodist Church, where he served as a chairman of the Administrative Council, the Pastor Parish Committee and on many Lay Witness Missions.

John’s greatest pride was for his wife, children and grandchildren. He loved and supported them in every way.

John’s daughter, Carilyn Hunt Sparks is a physician at UCLA in southern California.
His son, John Hunt Sparks, is an attorney in Norman with his wife Beth Sneed Sparks. Beth was loved dearly by her father-in-law who credited her for many things including being a wonderful mother to his grandsons, Hunt and Benjamin.

John was an honest, caring, loyal person and expected others to be the same.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Herman Sparks, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, May 17, 2019

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Sulphur United Methodist Church

2022 West 14th Street, Sulphur, OK 73086

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