Sparr, Keith Arthur
Keith Arthur Sparr, 88, great-grandfather, businessman and long-time resident of Oshkosh, died peacefully on Monday, July 14, 2014, following a short illness.
Best remembered for his kindness and sense of humor, Keith was always well liked - a real "people-person". Throughout his life, Keith maintained a love of music and was a proficient piano player and organist; his baritone/bass voice often added warm notes to the Algoma Boulevard Methodist church choir as well. He was a WWII veteran of the European Theater who, in later years as an avid traveler, returned many times to England and France under much happier circumstances.
Keith Sparr was born in Wausau, WI, on December 18, 1925 to parents Arthur and Vesta Sparr. After moving to Oshkosh, Keith graduated from Oshkosh High School in 1943.
Because the war intervened before he could attend college, Keith soon found himself serving his country overseas with the 1260th Combat Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army. After 27 months in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany (and attached to Patton's 3rd Army for a time), he was discharged in mid-1946 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Now free to return to college, Keith attended the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and Business Manager of the Men's Residence Halls Association, graduating in 1949. It was during Christmas break on December 21, 1948, that Keith married his long-time sweetheart Jane Evans, herself a recent UW graduate and a girl he had known since the age of ten. Jane reminds us that she could run faster than Keith, so he couldn't get away!
After graduating, Keith made a career in the retail trade - first with J.C. Penney where, after being transferred to Janesville, Monroe and Milwaukee WI, and then to Rockford and Kankakee, IL, he worked his way up to Manager of a Penney's store in Waukon, Iowa. In 1965, he returned to Oshkosh as a retail entrepreneur, founding (with his brother-in-law John Evans) an Oshkosh clothing store called The Canterbury Shop featuring college-centered clothes and custom-printed T-shirts. He later exited the clothing business and worked in a business office capacity for both the Universal Foundry and Winnebago Mental Health Institute.
Retirement in 1991 allowed time for travel and cultural pursuits. Keith & Jane enjoyed many trips to London and Paris as well as historical venues both here and abroad including the Normandy Battlefield, Yellowstone, Colonial Williamsburg, Savannah GA and other Revolutionary War and Civil War sites. Together, they also were active volunteers for the Grand Opera House and the County Historical Society's Morgan House.
Keith Arthur Sparr is survived by his beloved wife of over 65 years, Jane Evans Sparr, and by
his two sons, David Keith Sparr (Diane) of Oshkosh and John Robert Sparr (Jodi) of Minneapolis, MN. Keith is also survived by his three sisters, Patricia Muehrer of Knox, IN, Carol Meartz of Oshkosh and Lynn Busse (Randall) of Omro, WI; brother-in-law, John Evans (Virginia) of Oshkosh; grandchildren, Eric Sparr of Oshkosh and Jessica Hagel (Aaron) of Eden Prairie, MN; and great-granddaughter, Morgan Sparr of Oshkosh.
A private family memorial was held at Bella Vista Manor, 631 Hazel, Oshkosh, WI 54901 on July 21; please- no flowers or memorials. Many thanks to the dedicated workers at Bella Vista and Generations Hospice for caring for Keith and sharing his laughter.
Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on July 22, 2014