by Suzanne Sparrow Watson and Bob Sparrow
We are not able to write our usual blog this week. We won’t be able to start your day with a chuckle, either laughing with – or at – our writing. Last Tuesday, our mother passed away as a result of a fall that broke five of her ribs and …well, simply being 94 years old. In a twist that makes you believe in fate, she was transferred from the community hospital in Sonoma to Marin County General. When I heard that news I thought that maybe her life was coming full circle. It was in Marin County that she grew up, met and married our dad, and then raised us three kids. So it was only fitting that Marin County is where she would spend her final days. And in another twist of fate, she died just one day shy of the anniversary of our dad’s death. They were both huge 49er fans and we are now comforted in knowing that they were together to watch their favorite team play in the Super Bowl.
In tribute to her we are posting her obituary:
Barbara Whitman Sparrow, resident of Sonoma, California, passed away on January 29, 2013, just two weeks shy of her 94th birthday.
Barbara was raised in San Anselmo, California and graduated in 1936 from San Rafael High School. Barbara attended secretarial school in San Francisco after graduation and over the years made good use of her education.
Barbara met her future husband, Jack Sparrow, at San Rafael High and they were married in 1937. They moved to Novato in 1939 and in 1940 they bought the Novato Advance newspaper. At the time it made them the youngest newspaper publishers in California. Together they performed all of the jobs necessary to write, print and distribute the Advance. Barbara learned to use a linotype machine to help out, but her greatest contribution was her reporting of the town’s social events in her columns “A Little Bird Told Me” which was subsequently re-titled “A Bird’s Eye View”.
After Barbara and Jack sold the paper, Jack went into business for himself and Barbara pursued her own career. She held positions at Crocker National Bank and the Novato Unified School District.
Barbara was very active in Novato civic organizations. She was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, Novato Community Players, and in 1950 was a co-founder of the Novato chapter of the Sunny Hills Guild. She was a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, serving as the Northern California President for two years. In addition she led Boy Scout troops and volunteered at Novato General Hospital.
In 1977 Barbara and Jack retired in Sonoma. But retirement was not in the cards for Barbara. She took a part-time job at Vineyard Jewelers and worked there well into her 80’s. Barbara was active in Sonoma activities, joining the Sonoma Valley Women’s Association and the Sonoma Swingers golf group. She was also a member of the United Methodist Church in Sonoma.
Barbara is survived by her son Jack Jr. and his wife Sharon of Santa Maria, son Bob and his wife Linda of Orange County, and her daughter Suzanne and her husband Alan Watson, of Scottsdale, Arizona. She is also survived by her five grandchildren Shelley Watson and Matt Sparrow of Tucson, Arizona, Stephanie Shomer of Glendale, Dana Borelli of Monrovia, Jeff Sparrow of Orange County. step-grandson Colin Watson of Walnut Creek and step-grandaughter Wendy Watson Topalian of Leawood, Kansas. Additionally she was blessed to have great grandchildren Katie and Abby Watson of Tucson, AZ., Jackson and Madelyn Sparrow of Tucson, Dylan and Emma Shomer of Glendale, and step-greatgrandsons Matthew and Jake Topalian of Leawood. Barbara is also survived by her brother Neill of Sonoma and sister Geraldine of Sun City, Florida.
Private services will be held by the family. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sunny Hills Children’s Garden, 300 Sunny Hills Drive, San Anselmo, CA. 94960.