YATES CITY - Carolyn Lee (Sparks) McCoy of rural Yates City, Ill., died at 5:34 p.m. Friday, May 3, 2013, in her home following a valiant battle with cancer.
The final curtain has dropped on Carolyn's last "stage" of life.
Carolyn was born Jan. 22, 1941, in Berwyn, Ill., the daughter of Doreen (Puterbaugh) Sparks and Bertrand "Bert" H. Sparks, both deceased.
Carolyn married Larry E. McCoy on June 16, 1963, at the First Presbyterian Church in Elmwood, Ill. They would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in another 44 days.
Carolyn is survived by her husband, Larry McCoy; her cousin, Karen Sue (McConkey) Naffziger and her husband, Shelby Naffziger, of Bullard, Texas; cousin, Larry McConkey and his wife, Sammie McConkey, of Kerrville, Texas; and second cousins, Terri (Naffziger) Gibbs and her husband, Robert Gibbs, and family, of Southlake, Texas, Brad Naffziger and his wife, Susan Naffziger, and family, of Lutz, Fla., and Cami (McConkey) Feldman and her husband, Stephen Feldman and family, of Kerrville, Texas.
Carolyn was a former member of the First Presbyterian Church of Elmwood, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rockford, Ill., and the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Dubuque, Iowa.
Carolyn graduated from Elmwood Illinois Community High School as valedictorian of her 1959 class. She majored in economics and finance at the University of Illinois and graduated on the Dean's List in 1963.
She worked in the Trust Department of what was then the First National Bank of Rockford, Ill., for four years, then went into business for herself as an advertising/promotion agent, performing primarily in the industrial equipment field.
Her real love, as yet undiscovered, was acting.
Her acting career got its start in Rockford, Ill., when Larry convinced her to try out for a religious play that traveled from church to church in the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin area.
Discovering her newfound love and talent for acting, she began to audition for and accept roles in the Rockford Civic Theatre.
After 15 years in Rockford, Ill., Carolyn moved with Larry to his new job at the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1978. She and Larry renewed their acting avocation with the Barn Community Theatre in Dubuque. Although appearing in a few dramas, she preferred comedies and musicals, starring as Mame in "Mame," Ethel Thayer in "On Golden Pond," Lola in the musical "Damn Yankees" and numerous other Barn Community Theatre productions. Carolyn also performed at the Bell Tower Theater and acted with the Dubuque Fine Arts Players.
Carolyn and Larry were founding members of the Die-Laughing Mystery Players, a traveling mystery dinner theatre troupe, having a cast of eight actors. Carolyn and Larry performed with them for 18 years and Carolyn managed the traveling troupe from 1989 through 2005. Carolyn performed in this show 337 times; Larry 364 times. With her acting partner and playwright, Vince Williams of Dubuque, Iowa, the two of them performed Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Dickens," Vince's embellishment of Dickens' immortal "A Christmas Carol," 623 times. They performed another of Vince's plays entitled "For cRyan Out Loud" 937 times.
In the 1980s Carolyn adapted her "Flora From Frisco" character from the BCT musical "No, No, Nanette" into "Flora The Floozy," and entertained at celebrations of significant birthdays and anniversaries and sometimes at business meetings/conventions. "Flora The Floozy" wrote, memorized, and delivered 617 comedy routines in Dubuque, Iowa, southern Wisconsin and northeast Iowa before retiring in January 2006.
Carolyn appeared as an extra in movies such as "Field of Dreams" and "Take This Job and Shove It." She had speaking parts in a few TV shows. Some Dubuque area commercial firms hired her to be their spokesperson in videos for their products and/or services.
Excluding her movies and TV shows, she delivered 2,711 performances in and around the city of Dubuque, Iowa, entertaining, and bringing smiles and laughter, to an estimated collective audience of more than 134,000 people.
Carolyn and Larry retired in January 2006 and moved from Dubuque, Iowa, to Pine Knoll Farm near Yates City, Ill., where they enjoyed their six cats and two collies in a setting of nature designed by God and which Carolyn often referred to as, "A Little Piece of Heaven."
An encore performance of her life will be held in Carolyn's memory and in God's honor at Haensel Funeral Home, 501 S. Orchard St. Mackinaw, IL, 61755, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Come prepared to laugh and be entertained because Carolyn always wanted to "Leave 'em laughing."
Carolyn's "Act 1" visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2013, at the First Presbyterian Church of Elmwood, 201 West Evergreen, Elmwood, IL, 61529. Her "Act 2" visitation will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at Haensel Funeral Home in Mackinaw, Ill., prior to her funeral services. Burial will be in the Mackinaw Township Cemetery.
Haensel Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Crystal Cathedral's "Hour of Power" (TV), to the Salvation Army or OSF Hospice.
Larry would like to thank OSF Hospice and Spoon River Home Health Care for their loving and compassionate care during Carolyn's final earthly days.
Online condolences may be made at www.haenselfuneralhome.com.