Goodbye, Jerry

Nov 11, 2015

Dr. Sparling waves to an admiring crowd.photo credit: Marcy Stamper

Early on the morning of Nov. 9, Dr. Gerald Sparling died at his home peacefully without suffering. Having full knowledge of his terminal condition, he accepted it philosophically and gracefully. He will be sorely missed.

Herbert Wimberger and Dick Gode were two of Jerry's closest friends, having all served together on behalf of the Festival since its founding. Herbert and Dick talk about some of the early days.

What Jerry meant to our Festival

During the whole long history of the Festival, Jerry's steadfast presence and leadership have remained a critical part of its existence and success. I think it is safe to say that Jerry's persistence during one particular time in the festival's history was crucial to its survival. During that period he was the one who singlehandedly held the board together and expressed trust and confidence in the festival's mission. His support, wise counsel, and material help were decisive factors that preserved the Festival so that we can enjoy it today.

Personally, I feel we have lost a great friend and would like to dedicate the winter concert to his memory.

Sincerely,
Herbert and Irmgard Wimberger

Jerry's Spirit

Let me underscore Herbert's eloquent message and add the following. Before the recent years of stability that have welcomed a permanent venue and relative financial stability, we bounced around from fields to barns, to tents wherever we could find a decent space to hold the festival. In addition we never knew whether or not we would operate in the black and some years we didn't. During that time Jerry not only continued to generously donate to the operation, but he was always available to lend a hand to repair a barn, build a stage, haul the chairs or whatever needed to be done. He was the man for all seasons, always cheerful, pragmatic and optimistic that the festival would survive and even thrive in the years to come.

Indeed, he was proved right much in part due to his own generosity and hard work. During the darkest time, Jerry and Herbert together as co-presidents literally brought the festival back to life when many thought we were doomed to fail.

With Jerry's passing, so so ends an era. We are all saddened that he will no longer be around to enjoy "the beautiful music".

Perhaps you already know that Jerry did not face death with fear or anxiety, but in his own existential way merely viewed death as the end of his contributions on this planet. He was a stuborn curmudgeon in many ways, but at the same time a lovable and dear friend. I will personally miss him greatly.

Best Wishes to All,
Dick Gode