Elmer Richard (Dick) Sparrow, 81, a lifelong resident of Zearing, Iowa, died Friday, December 24, 2010 at Colonial Manor in Zearing,Iowa. Dick, was born the son of Ross McKinley Sparrow and Rose Kutter Sparrow on November 29, 1929 at the Sparrow family farm in Zearing, Iowa. He graduated from Zearing High School and attended Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa. It was here that he met Joy Beggs and three years later, on June 21, 1951, he married his love, friend and lifelong companion. Dick and Joy shared their love of people and horses for almost 60 years.
Dick served our Country in the US Army during the Korean War from 1955 to 1956. Dick and Joy actively showed Belgian Draft Horses in the 1950's, 1960's, the early 1970's, and then again in the 1980's, 1990's. In 1972, Dick began an adventure that would change his and his family's lives forever. Dick drove the 40 Horse Hitch in cities all across the United States for six years. During this time, Dick drove 48 horses twice, at the Iowa State Fair and the Cotton Bowl Parade in Dallas, Texas. This feat garnered him a world record in the Guinness Book of World Records. In later years, the Coors Brewery enlisted Dick's skills as a horseman and ambassador driving a 6 horse hitch for 17 years throughout the United States, driving horses to the thrill, excitement and amazement of many. He taught all 12 grandkids how to drive and was proud to watch many of them showing horses, no matter what breed of horse. He spent a great deal of time with his grandchildren, each summer taking the oldest eight kids on a "Grandpa Trip" to destinations around the United States. These trips along with the excursions to the Great Circus Parade helped to develop a beautiful legacy of family, friends and horses in his grandchildren. Dick shared the love of the horse with thousands of people. Dick imparted the love of family and friends to all he touched.
He was a member of St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in Zearing, a member of the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America, the Iowa Horsemen's Hall of Fame, and the Knights of Columbus.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ross McKinley Sparrow and Rose Kutter Sparrow and a younger brother, Ross Sparrow. Surviving Mr. Sparrow are his wife, Joy, sister, Carrie (Raymond) Obrecht; five children, Paul (Sandy) Sparrow, Robert (Lisa) Sparrow, Elaine (Scott) Hansen, Sue (Dennis) Meggers, and Rose (Jason) Goodman, twelve grandchildren, Jamie(friend Kim Scott), Mark(Andrea) Sparrow and Tim(Brittany) Sparrow, Chantel Sparrow(friend Travis Fox), Cheyenne, Ross and John Sparrow, Alex and Amber Hansen, Emily Meggers(fiancé Jeff Gearig), Casey Meggers, Marcia Meggers(fiancé Kyle Forsyth), and one great-grandchild, Hayden Sparrow.
Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at Dakins Community Center, Main Street, Zearing, Iowa with burial at the Zearing Cemetery. Visitation with the family will be Tuesday, December 28, 2010 from 4 to 7 p.m. with prayers at 7 p.m.. Friends are invited after prayers to publicly share memories. Memorials directed to family.
For ages would its light, Still travelling downward from the sky, Shine on our mortal sight. So when a great man dies, For years beyond our kin, The light he leaves behind him lies Upon the paths of men.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Published by the Des Moines Register on Dec. 26, 2010.