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Jim Sparkman


1929 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Jim Sparkman Obituary
Jim Sparkman

1929 - 2016 MANCHESTER CENTER, VT On January 17, 2016 Jim Sparkman passed away peacefully in his bed surrounded by family and loved ones. He was 86 years old. James Douglas Sparkman, Jr. was born May 9, 1929 in New Rochelle, NY. He grew up in a historic family home and attended local schools in New Rochelle followed by the Gilman School and Princeton University. While at Princeton, Jim was a member of the Naval ROTC, the Cap & Gown Club and the Varsity Track Team where he was a recipient of the Keene Fitzpatrick Award his senior year. During his college years and beyond, he was also active in yacht racing, crewing in the Acapulco and Bermuda Races among others. Upon graduating from Princeton in 1952 with a degree in economics, he enlisted in the US Navy. He served as a Lieutenant JG aboard the Destroyer Escort USS Melvin R. Nawman assigned to the Atlantic Station Squadron until 1955. Following his time in the Navy, Jim briefly worked in California and on Wall Street before commencing a decade-long career in the liquor and spirits business with Shenley and Austin Nichols. During this time, he moved frequently within the United States, but was particularly fond of his time in Miami where he sailed at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, enjoyed trips to the Caribbean and met a lifelong group of friends. In 1968, while living in New York City, Jim purchased a vacation property in Manchester. He would move there permanently two years later and call it home for the next 45 years. While in Manchester, he founded Manchester Country Properties, a real estate firm that would be his principal business occupation for the next four decades. In the later half of his real estate career, however, Jim turned his primary attention and efforts to Manchester town planning and responsible development issues. He was acknowledged by the Giraffe Hero's Project in 1996 for "sticking his neck out" as a "development watchdog" in Manchester. In Vermont, he loved skiing at Bromley and renewed his love of running through long-distance road racing. Running competitively from his 40s through his 70s, he became a nationally ranked runner in his age group in the 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon distances. In the 1979 New York City Marathon, he was awarded 3rd place among men 50-54 with a time of 2:53:03. He found easy contentment in his adopted home of Manchester and the simple pleasures of life - his dogs & cats, sports, sunshine, and the Vermont Mountains. He loved a great meal and never passed on an opportunity for dessert. Ice cream was a routinely messy and always relished affair. Eternally youthful, he loved to laugh and tease. His quick smile and wicked sense of humor were ever-present. Emails and letters were peppered with hilarious quotes and jabs, mostly at the expense of himself. Gifts, gags and funny stories trailed him and his wide range of friends. He was enormously proud of his extended family and took a supportive interest in them until his final days. He is survived by a family he loved dearly: brother, Nick; son, Jamie, daughter-in-law, Jill, and granddaughter, Tabitha; nephew, Palmer; nieces, Anne, Robin & Pam; grandnieces & nephews, Jack, Henry, Brooke, Lucy, Charlotte, Victoria, Savanna & Brett. SERVICES: A memorial service is planned for 11a.m. Monday, January 25, 2016 at Trinity Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in New Rochelle, NY where Jim will join his Huguenot ancestors, his parents, Jim & Kathleen and brother, Palmer in the family cemetery. A reception at the Larchmont Yacht Club is to follow.
Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 20, 2016
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