In memoriam: Jeff Sparks

It was with great sadness that I learned this morning of the passing of my friend Jeff Sparks. Jeff was an avid fossil collector, and for the last several years had been collecting and donating specimens for both VMNH and the Calvert Marine Museum. 

I’ve excavated with Jeff on several occasions at Carmel Church and on the Rappahannock River. Specimens he discovered for VMNH include a small, complete baleen whale skull, a sea turtle, and the sperm whale skull we collected together last year. In addition to my poster presentation on the sperm whale at SVP last year, at least one of Jeff’s specimens, a pathological whale vertebra donated to the Calvert Marine Museum, has been described in a scientific paper.

You will be missed, Jeff.

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8 Responses to In memoriam: Jeff Sparks

  1. Brian Beatty says:

    I didn’t know him, but recognize his name from specimens I’ve studied in the CMM collections.
    I’m really glad to see him being remembered here, his contributions to Vertebrate Paleontology were significant, and we owe him and other like him a great deal for their mostly thankless work. Although the Skinner Award through SVP is a nice way to thank such extraordinary people, there are so many that deserve it that never get credited or thanked, and I wish we could do more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for your touching memorium to my nephew, Jeff. The pictures you provided gave me a great deal of comfort, seeing him doing what he loved the most. It’s good to know his contributions will insure he is always remembered as a curious, inquisitive and generous person.

    Kathy Coleman
    Louisville, Kentucky

  3. Daryl Serafin says:

    My prayers for Jeff’s wife and daughters, and other family members. I pray that God would give you great comfort during this really difficult time.

    Jeff was one of those folks I always looked forward to seeing at our MGS club meetings. He always brought in some really interesting fossils, especially that amazing crocodile skull last year. He touched the lives of many, and will be missed!

  4. Carter says:

    I spent a couple of days with Jeff working alongside him and Butch on the Rappahannock Sperm Whale Skull. It did not take long to sense his passion when it came to fossils. My thoughts are with his family. Please know Jeff will live on thru his contributions to Paleontology. Good hunting Jeff!

  5. Barb Sparks, Mother says:

    Thank you so much for the tribute for Jeff. This is my Son and I miss him so very much. He loved doing this sort of thing ever since he was a little boy. I will always remember how he loved telling us his stories of how he would find these things he called “treasures.”

    The pictures were great and I am so happy you shared them with us.

  6. Alton Dooley says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Mrs. Sparks. Jeff was a great fossil hunter, and a great friend.

  7. Tom Breen says:

    I met Jeff through the Maryland Geological Society. I had just recently started collecting fossils, and I signed up for a field trip to Carmel Church that Jeff was sponsoring with the AFF. Jeff showed me what to look for in the quarry, helped me find a good spot to dig, helped remove a lot of the overburden, and did everything he could to make sure that this newbie had an enjoyable, productive day. Jeff, you helped me become the fossil fanatic I am today, and you will be sorely missed.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is so nice to see that someone is still looking at this and leaving such nice messages.
    This is his Mother and it is very comforting.

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