Originally Published: September 24, 2011 10 p.m.
Robert passed away peacefully Sept. 21, 2011, in Prescott, Ariz. He was 94. He was born on March 6, 1917, in Detroit, Mich., to Calvin and Flora (Knight) Sparling. He attended Lawrence Tech and Michigan State University, where he studied engineering. After college, he worked for Ford building the B-24 Liberator at Willow Run in Detroit, and then at Laister Kaufmann in St. Louis, Mo., building LK sailplanes for the war effort. In 1947 he moved to Prescott. After his arrival, he worked at the O RO Ranch and also assisted in building the Prescott Airport. In 1949 he married Johanna Macaskill. They became the parents of two daughters, Susan and Robin. Robert owned Prescott Millwork and Supply, and worked as a cabinetmaker. He served on the Prescott City Council and was active in the Prescott Toastmasters. He later worked with Eitel Electronics to assist in providing antenna television to Prescott and surrounding communities. Throughout his life, he pursued his immeasurable passion for flying sailplanes. He was a founding member of the Prescott Glider Club which later became Prescott Soaring Society and actively flew well into his 80s. Robert loved animals and his garden, and is remembered fondly for his treasured swap meet and Citroen automobile collections and his never-ending unfinished projects! He had an incredible mind, and remembered virtually everything he had ever learned. He spent endless hours helping friends troubleshoot technical and mechanical issues.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife Johanna, his brother Philip and his sister Ione. Survivors include daughters, Susan Kane (Mike) of Prescott, and Robin Sparling (Carl Tatro) of Dallas, Texas; grandchildren, Katherine and Paul Kane of Prescott; and nieces, Phyllis Kemppainen, Diane Bowling, JoAnn Grahl and Debbie King, all of Michigan.
A celebration of Robert's life will be on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 4 p.m. at the Prescott Airport terminal building. Hampton Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Anyone wishing to make a donation in memory of Robert may do so to the U.S. Southwestern Soaring Museum, c/o George Applebay at P.O. Box 3626, Moriarty, NM 87035. Please visit www.hamptonfuneralhome.com to sign Robert's guestbook.
Information provided by survivors.