April 2011

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Joseph J. Sparks

The IBEW regrets to announce that retired Third District International Representative Joseph J. Sparks died January 1 at the age of 88.

Brother Sparks was initiated into Philadelphia Local 98 in 1948. A Phila-delphia native, he was a graduate of St. Joseph's College. Sparks served six years in the U.S. Navy during World War II before joining the IBEW.

Working as an inside wireman, he quickly became a leader in the local, serving as a member of the executive board and as business agent before being elected president in 1965.

Local 98 Financial Secretary Francis Walsh joined the IBEW soon after Sparks' election.

"He was a real effective president," says Walsh. "Extremely professional, he made sure every meeting ran smoothly and on time."

He served in the position until 1970, when he was appointed Third District International Representative by International President Charles Pillard. Brother Sparks serviced construction locals in his home city and throughout eastern Pennsylvania.

Retiring in 1985, he remained active in the labor movement and civic affairs, serving as president of Local 98's retirees club and as a member of the general board of the National Council of Senior Citizens.

He was also very active in local politics, volunteering with the Philadelphia AFL-CIO's get-out-the-vote drives.

Brother Sparks was also a member of a local barbershop quartet group, performing for nursing home residents and church groups.

The IBEW extends its deepest sympathy to his friends and family.

´╗┐Joseph J. Sparks