Clinton Lee Sparks
Clinton Lee Sparks
  • December 4, 1930 - December 24, 2017
  • Discovery Bay, California

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Dr. Clinton Lee Sparks, 87, of Discovery Bay, California, was welcomed into Heaven on December 24th, 2017 at Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, CA. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday, January 5th, 2018 at St. Anne's Church, 2800 Camino Diablo, Byron, CA 94514. Reverend Douglas Schoonover (Delta Community Presbyterian Church, Discovery Bay, CA) will be officiating with a message by Dr. Larry Vold (3 Crosses Church, Castro Valley, CA). A reception will follow at the church. A visitation will be open to the public from 12 noon until 1:00 pm. Burial services will be held at a later date in North Dakota. In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to "The Sparks Family Scholarship Endowment" at Those wishing to sign Clinton's online guestbook may do so at Condolences can be sent to Bernadine Sparks at 5615 Berwick Court, Discovery Bay, CA 94505.

Clinton Lee Sparks was born in Wahpeton, North Dakota on December 4, 1930. His education started in a one room rural school house and he walked approximately 2 miles to school every day. During high school, Clinton was active in Student Government, Drama, Debate, Varsity basketball, and was a Baritone Soloist for the A Cappella Choir. During his senior year in high school and after the death of his older brother, Clinton began to take leadership in the operations of his family farm near Alice, North Dakota. Eventually, the Sparks family moved to Fargo, North Dakota due to the failing health of his father, Lee Arthur Sparks.

Clinton had begun to attend the Dakota Business College when he was drafted into the Army and served during the Korean War from 1952-1954. Upon returning from military service, he completed the degrees of Bachelor of Science (June 1958) and Master of Science (August 1958) at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU, he was active in numerous activities including being the State President of the YMCA, Commander of the University Veterans, University Senator, and Bass Soloist for the Statesman and the University Concert Choir.

During Clinton's junior year in high school, he met Bernadine Lillian Luther. In 1958, Clinton and Bernadine were married in Sheldon, North Dakota. After their marriage, they moved to California where they have been involved in public and private education as well as in church and business circles. Clinton taught and served in administrative positions in the California public schools. He went on to do graduate study at the California State University in Hayward, San Jose State University, University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University in New York. He completed a Doctorate in Education and was awarded the prestigious Founders Day Award for outstanding achievement and academic excellence at New York University in 1972. Dr. Sparks served as a Teaching Fellow at New York University, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa, Assistant Professor of Education at San Jose State University, Associate Professor of Safety Education at California State University at Hayward, Manager of the Parent Participation Program in Education for the California State Department of Education, and Chief Administrator of Northern California land-based and sea-going baccalaureate and graduate degree programs for Chapman University.

After fourteen years as a full Professor of Education and as Dean of the Simpson Graduate School in San Francisco, Dr. Sparks retired from Simpson University during the summer of 1989. During his tenure at Simpson University, he founded the Graduate School for Education. He also directed and supervised over 120 advanced research projects and studies in local, state and national education. During his years as Dean, he served as a three-term president of the Independent College and University Deans of Education.

After leaving Simpson University, he served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Central California District of the Evangelical Free Church of North America. Clinton and Bernadine continued to own and manage the Sparks Farms operations near Alice, Enderlin, and Horace, North Dakota.

Clinton is survived by his wife, Bernadine Lillian (Luther) Sparks of Discovery Bay, CA, two sons, Lee Clinton (Nancy) of Benicia, CA, Glen Edwin (Anita) of Discovery Bay, CA, his four grandchildren, Janelle and Alanna (Glen), Melody and Violet Sparks (Lee), his sister Marian (Sparks) Koppang of Vancouver, WA, nephew Paul Koppang of Laughlin, NV, and niece Lori (Koppang) Knoetzel of Vancouver, WA. He was preceded in death by his half-brother Donald Sparks in 1944, his parents, Lee Arthur Sparks in 1973 and Viola Ione (Bailey) Sparks in 1979, and niece Cheryl (Koppang) Kumm in 2004.