Sparby, Alton Magnus (1915-2007)

Alton Sparby, 92, died Sunday, September 16, 2007 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, N.D.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, September 20, at United Lutheran Church in Gatzke, with Rev. Katie Koch officiating. Interment will follow at Landstad Cemetery in Gatzke. Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., with a prayer service at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19 (today) at Johnson Funeral Service in Thief River Falls. Visitation will also be held for one hour prior to the funeral at church.

Alton Magnus Sparby was born August 30, 1915 on the family farm in Veldt Township, Marshall County, the son of Ole and Amelia (Libek) Sparby. He was baptized and confirmed at Landstad Lutheran Church near Gatzke and he was one of the last to be confirmed in Norwegian. He attended country school in Veldt Township.

In 1933, the Sparby family moved to the present farmstead in Eckvoll Township which was called Bog Island. In his early years Alton worked on the family farm and for area farmers.

On July 7, 1946 he was united in marriage to Alva Leshar at Landstad Lutheran Church near Gatzke. They settled on the Sparby family farm and to this union eight children were born: Eldon, Jerome, Dennis, Robert, James, David, Steven, and Karen. They operated a diverse farm which included small grains and dairy cattle. He worked several jobs including Arctic Cat, the Grand Forks Airbase, home construction in the Minneapolis area and logging in northwest Minnesota.

Farming and family was his life. Alton enjoyed driving tractor and helping on the farm with his sons Steve and Jim until he was 90 years old. Alton also enjoyed hunting, fishing, and going to senior dances with Alva. You could always find a smile on his face when grandchildren, great grandchildren, family or friends came to visit. He and Alva enjoyed traveling and especially his trips to Norway and Alaska to visit their family and friends. No matter where Alton went, he always found someone to visit with. He and Alva attended thousands of sporting and community events.
He was a member of United Lutheran Church in Gatzke where he served on the church council, he served on the Eckvoll Township Board and Gatzke School Board, was a member of the Grygla Lions Club and Fourtown-Grygla Sportsman Club.

Survivors include his loving wife of 61 years, Alva of Grygla; seven children, Eldon (Linda) Sparby of Middle River, Jerry (Luci) Sparby of Cold Spring, Dennis Sparby of Milaca, Bob (Sue) Sparby of Eden Prairie, Jim (Tami) Sparby of Grygla, Steve (Julie) Sparby of Grygla and Karen (Joe) Ranum of Willow, Alaska; 22 grandchildren; six step-grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; several step-great-grandchildren; and numerous relatives including Wallace (Ione) Sparby of Thief River Falls; and many, many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents; son, David; three grandchildren; daughter-in-law, Julia; and brothers and sisters, Jean, Henry, Alfred, Ella, Alma, Edel, Oscar, Clifford, Lee, Cleon, and John.

Transcribed by: Cheryl Srnsky