John William Sparbel
John William Sparbel, resident of Carson City, and Tucson, Ariz., died suddenly Oct. 30, 2008 in Carson City due to complications from emergency heart surgery.
John was an avid photographer, outdoorsman and traveler. At age 9 his uncle gave him a box brownie camera, to record a family holiday in the West. Upon returning, he entered an image in a Lansing, MI, newspaper photo contest, and later often laughed about winning first prize, a frying pan, which he promptly gave to his mother. That trip firmly established his love for the West as well as his life long passion for celebrating the natural world and sharing its grandeur with others through his camera lens. John and his wife Connie (owners for many years of Classic Travel of Carson City) traveled to over 170 countries photographing native peoples and cultures.
John published several books of photographs and was a master of digital techniques and photo processing, giving many workshops. His work is found in private collections, national publications and on line. He was a founding member of the Digital Imaging Group -South, of SaddleBrooke, Ariz.
John, born August 7, 1940 in Clare, Mich., moved to Lansing when he was a boy. After graduating from Eastern High School and Michigan State, he was planning director for Bloomington, Ill., San Bernardino County, Calif., and Lewiston, Maine.
John met his wife Connie when they were both working as urban planners. They married in 1967 and moved to Carson City, in 1969.
John worked as Assistant to Nevada Governors Paul Laxalt, Mike O’Callaghan, and Robert List. While employed in the governor’s office, John represented the State on the Four Corners Regional Planning Commission. Later, he was Assistant Director for State Industrial Insurance for Nevada. After retiring John did private consulting, which included working on 2000 census redistricting mapping for Nevada’s Legislative Council Bureau.
In 1998 John and Connie bought a second, winter home in SaddleBrooke, Ariz., north of Tucson. A gregarious person and avid naturalist, John made many friends wherever he went and was generally the life of the party. He loved Mexican food (with Grande Margaritas, of course). Truly eclectic, John flew hot air balloons, made stained glass windows, built weaving looms, and was a fine carpenter and pastel portrait artist.
John leaves his wife Constance Shear Sparbel, his sister Lois Sparbel, of Lansing, MI, and nieces and nephews. His mother Ruth predeceased John by four days. His father John Keith Sparbel died in 1993 and his brother Wayne Sparbel in 1980 both in Lansing, MI.
A memorial event is being planned. As a lover of libraries and reading, John served for many years on the Carson City Library Board. While chairman, at his urging the Carson City Library Foundation was created in 1986. A memorial fund has been established in John Sparbel’s name: Carson City Library Foundation, 900 N. Roop St., Carson City, NV 89701.