Widow Donates $10,000 to JCMVAMC Hospice Program - Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
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Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System

 

Widow Donates $10,000 to JCMVAMC Hospice Program

A woman presents a check to VA staff

Amy Sparks (center) presents a check for $10,000 to JCMVAMC Acting Director Bryan Matthews (right) and the Hospice Program on Dec. 2.

By Nathan Schaeffer
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

During their high school days in Konawa, Okla. in the late 1930s, Oscar Warren Sparks and Amy Means never went on official dates.  But the classmates at Konawa High School did meet for lunch at the school store and as the two left, Warren would always give Amy a pack a gum.

“That was his courting,” said Amy Sparks with a laugh.

Following graduation, the carefree days of their youth were interrupted by a world war and both Amy and Warren joined the military to do their part.  Amy served with the U.S. Navy WAVES, “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service,” and Warren earned an officer’s commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served as a pilot with the 314th Fighter Squadron.

Before Warren shipped out for combat duty in Europe, the couple got married on January 1, 1944 in Sarasota, Fl.  On Christmas Day that same year, 1st Lt. Sparks was shot down during his 96th mission and held as a prisoner of war in Germany until the war ended.

Following the war, the couple both graduated from Oklahoma State University and then moved to Texas where they lived for 10 years before moving back to Oklahoma.  The Sparks also had two daughters along the way and they eventually retired in Pryor.

On Oct. 16, after more than 67 years of marriage, the Sparks spent their final day together when Warren passed away at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center (JCMVAMC).

“I think he knew he was dying, but I think he was ready,” said Amy Sparks, who is 90 years old.

Prior to his death, the staff of the JCMVAMC Hospice Program made every effort to optimize his quality of life and provide support to his family.

“(The staff) tells you what to expect - like how his breathing is going to be and how his appearance may change a little bit and everything they said was going to happen, happened,” said Amy Sparks.  “It wasn’t a surprise and we weren’t scared by it or upset.  The time just passed and the day he died, he just breathed a little slower and then he didn’t breathe.  It was that simple and we were there and he knew we were there.  I just don’t see how it could have been handled any better.”

Amy Sparks said the final week of her husband’s life was the best he had had in more than two years.

“You know, they were just some good days,” she said.  “I know that sounds crazy, but they were good days and the people were just so kind.”

In fact, she was so pleased with the care that Warren received - she donated $10,000 to the JCMVAMC Hospice Program on Dec. 2.

“Warren and I have received services from the VA for several years,” she said.  “This isn’t new to us.  I figure we have had the best medical care anybody in Oklahoma could have and I admire the employees so much.  They have been so good to me for years.  The VA is a good organization.  You all are the best.”

Jo Thomason, one of Amy and Warren’s two daughters, also wanted to thank the VA employees who cared for her father.

“I would like the staff to know how wonderful they were to my father as he was in such dire distress and my mother as she treasured every minute that he remained here on this earth with her,” said Thomason.  “Thank you for your kindness and your professionalism.”

JCMVAMC Acting Director Bryan Matthews thanked Amy Sparks for the generous donation and said it was a privilege and an honor for the medical center staff to care for Oscar Warren Sparks.

“This donation will go a long ways towards making sure our Veterans on the hospice unit continue to receive the outstanding care they always have received,” said Matthews.  “Mrs. Sparks’ donation is a shining example of Veterans looking after Veterans.”

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