About two days after MHProNews published a report on Mary Alice Sparks, Echovita says she died at the age of 87. More on her manufactured home industry connection with Nathan Smith and Kurt Keeney is found further below.
A visitation and funeral for Sparks occurred on Friday, September 25 at the Kerr Brothers Funeral Home – 463 E Main St, Lexington, KY 40507. No specific cause of death is known at this time.
The Northern Kentucky University (NKU) honored her contribution to that institution on that day. Sparks was the “first woman to chair NKU’s Board of Regents and first female chair of a Kentucky public university, has recently died, administrators announced in a campus-wide email today.” That message and report were published on 9.25.2020.
NKY news editor Rachel Smith wrote that “Her mark on NKU is extensive, and she truly helped shape our university into the institution we are today,” President Ashish Vaidya said in the news release.
Sparks was appointed to NKU’s Board of Regents in 1992. She advised the university as a regent and chair for seven years. Sparks also served as the search committee chair responsible for selecting Dr. James Votruba to be NKU’s fourth president.
NKU Regent Dennis Repenning shared memories of Sparks in the university’s release.
“We’ll remember Alice for her generous contributions to NKU and our community. She combined wit, grace and humility and loved NKU basketball,” Repenning said. “But that was only a small part of who she was. Alice would work the phones, raising money for worthy causes. She checked on friends who were ill and wrote letters in support of friends or causes. Her death is a loss for all of us.”
“Alice had an infectious personality and truly lit up a room when she entered. She was a true leader of people,” NKU “Norse” Athletics Director Ken Bothof said per the university’s press statement. “NKU, our athletic department and many of our student-athletes, past, current and future, will have all benefited because of Alice’s commitment. Personally, I will miss her sense of humor, her willingness to speak candidly and her Northern Kentucky Spirit!”
As MHProNews previously reported, Smith was active in Democratic party politics. This tweet with Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Amy McGrath, reflects her importance in those circles.
Proud to meet with philanthropist and businesswoman Alice Steven Sparks, the first woman to chair a public KY university (Go Norse!) and welcome her to the team. pic.twitter.com/GuzIPKBZC7
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) June 21, 2020
According to the funeral and wake details, Sparks is survived by: her children, Roy Lee Sparks (Susie) of Lexington, KY and Donna Sue Powell; her grandchildren, Erin Tharp (Craig), Eric Sparks, Ashley Sullivan (Jeff) and Jared Powell; her great grandchildren, Haze, Jaxon Tharp, Tucker, Colton and Nate Sullivan; and her boyfriend Melvin Barden. Sparks is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
“Mary Alice Sparks, 87, Lexington, KY, departed this life on September 18th, 2020 at UK Hospice of the Bluegrass with her son and her daughter by her side,” said a Henson and Rich obituary. “She was born April 14, 1933 in Chevrolet, KY.” Sparks clearly led a rich, full life.
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) September 25, 2020
MHProNews wishes its condolences and prayers to all her loved ones and friends who are touched by her loss. May Mary Alice Sparks rest in peace.
The Flagship Communities IPO Controversy May Deepen, Not Quiet following Sparks’ Death
The various controversies connected with Nathan Smith, Kurt Keeney, and SSK Communities – rebranded as Flagship Communities – are likely to be roiled, at least for a time, by Sparks’ death.
Her will and other legal issues may need to be sorted out, which may take time.
It is worth noting that neither NKU nor Echovita mentioned her connection to manufactured housing, SSK, Flagship, Smith or Keeney.
To learn more, see the linked reports.
Additional insights on Sparks’ association with Nathan Smith, Kurt Keeney, SSK Communities, Flagship Communities, and related controversies are found below the byline and notices.
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By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
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