October 23, 1915-September 6, 2008
George Sparks appeared at Midcoast Meeting in the early 1970s wanting to participate in our worship, and he joined the Meeting in December 1976. As time went on, we all got to know each other and a very strong bond was made. He didn’t speak often in Meeting, but when he did, it was brief and to the point. His messages came from the heart, and his silent worship was deep.
He was born in Norwood, Pennsylvania, into a railroading family. His grandfather was in charge of developing safety devices for the railroad and was acquainted with Thomas Edison, whose biography gave the young George a desire to be an inventor, which indeed he achieved. Before the war, he was assigned to a machinery business his boss owned and worked a 60-hour workweek as a machinist.
Right after the war in Europe was over, he entered the Merchant Marine Training School and shipped out on a troopship going back and forth to Marseilles to bring the GIs home. When he got back home, he joined a package business, and his inventions included cardboard boxes for the foil-backed blister pill package with which we all are acquainted and on the lighter side, the window package for Easter chocolate eggs and bunnies. He also designed the packaging for filled syringes to be shipped without breakage. One of the syringe packages he designed went to the moon with Neil Armstrong. He was very proud of that.
He was a good athlete, a gemologist, and a creator of jewelry. He learned to fly and piloted his own airplane. He also loved to play the banjo and dance. On top of all that, he was an artist all his life. In his early years in Pennsylvania, he lived near Andrew Wyeth, and they became friends and occasionally they painted together.
As a child, he went to Sunday School and was interested in reading about various religions of the world. A Quaker family named Mendenhall lived nearby, and he was impressed that their son, about his age, would never fight, no matter the provocation. George went with him to Springfield Meeting and liked what he found there. After the war, he joined Germantown Meeting, where he taught First Day School, served as a clerk of the finance committee, and was a Trustee of the meeting. He had found his niche for life.
When he moved to Maine and joined Midcoast Meeting, we welcomed him gladly, He was on the finance committee for many years and gave astute advice that was especially welcomed when we were considering building our meetinghouse. He served on Ministry & Counsel for a number of years and took seriously his role in helping guide the spiritual health of the Meeting and encouraging our vocal ministry. He was always available to help in one way or another.
He moved to Florida after his ninetieth birthday to be near one of his daughters. Before he died on September 6, 2008, he had two wishes he expressed to his family. One was to have a memorial service at the Midcoast Friends meetinghouse, and the second was to have his ashes buried on the meetinghouse property. His ashes were the first to be buried in our Memorial Garden with a lovely simple marker stone. Midcoast Meeting will always miss his spiritual strength and his full participation in our Meeting that so helped us in many ways become who we are today.
(this Memorial Minute can also be found in the Aprin 2011 newsletter)