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Laura A. Sparks

Laura Anne Sparks passed from this life in the early hours of June 13, 2021. She was a much-beloved wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and dear friend to so many.

Laura was born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1967. She grew up in the Des Moines area, and attended Roosevelt High School, graduating in 1986. Laura also attended the University of Iowa and received her B.A. in Theatre Arts in 1991.

After college, Laura enjoyed living in different areas of the country for several years. She lived, worked, and pursued theatre in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco during that time. In San Francisco she was also part of the music community, singing in community and synagogue choirs, there discovering a love of Jewish liturgical music which continued all her life.

San Francisco is also where she met, fell in love with, and married George Sparks. They moved back to Des Moines to be closer to family and raise their two sons, Nathan and Toby.

In addition to family life, Laura pursued a variety of personal interests. She practiced martial arts, earning her 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo, and persuaded her husband to do the same. Laura also expanded her passion for vocal music. She sang in various synagogue and community choirs, and also served for the past decade as a Cantorial Soloist at Temple B’nai Jeshurun.

In more recent years, Laura joyously dove back into her performance roots. She reveled in the opportunity to channel her inner Molly Picon, singing Yiddish tunes with the Java Jews Klezmer band. Laura was also a member of the Des Moines theatre community, performing in many plays and musicals with StageWest Theatre, Tallgrass Theatre, and the Des Moines Playhouse, among others.

A wide variety of creative endeavors abounded in Laura’s life. She both played and taught the ukulele and recently took up the banjo. Not just a performer, she wrote many songs and vocal arrangements and performed them with friends. She was also adept at the written word as a talented writer, humorist, and poet, particularly in the art of haiku.

Laura’s greatest legacy is the unbounded love, joy, and humor she shared with all who know her. She had a particular knack for bringing together groups of acquaintances and watching them all become friends. Through her kindness, intelligence, and creativity, she greatly enriched the lives of everyone lucky enough to know her.

Laura is predeceased by her parents, Lloyd and Toby Miller, and stepmother Beverly Drinnin. She is survived by husband George Sparks, sons Nathan and Toby, brother Sam Miller, sister Erin Drinnin (Jason Jones), brother Joel Drinnin (Amanda Drinnin), nieces and nephew Mabyn, Jade, Beatrice, and Owen.


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