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Opal Sparling

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Opal Sparling

Opal Lightfoot Stevens Sparling, a long-time resident of Hamilton, passed away on Monday, March 23, 2020 at an assisted living facility in Carrollton. She was 100 years old.

Because of the current COVID-19 mandates, there will be an immediate family only graveside service Thursday at Gentry’s Mill Cemetery.

Viewing at Riley Funeral Home will be Wednesday, March 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The family will host a Celebration of Life Service at a later date.

Opal was born in Palestine, Texas, Sept. 27, 1919, to A.R. and Allie (Featherston) Lightfoot. At an early age, Opal lost her mom and was raised by her older siblings. She learned how to walk behind a covered wagon from Palestine to Hamilton when her father moved to start a new life. A.R. married Augusta Armenda Jeffrey and added an additional five siblings to his previous five children.

On July 4, 1940, Opal married William Vernon Stevens and they had a son, Bill. They lived on a farm for 12 years then moved to McGregor into a new home. After being there for two years, Vernon was on the side of the road fixing a flat tire when a big truck hit and killed him.

Opal became a single mom in the 1950s and worked as a cook at the city café in McGregor.

A friend of Vernon’s, Joe Sparling, watched after Opal and Bill over the years. In 1959, Opal married Joe.

Opal spent most of her professional life as a cook. She worked 20 years for the Irving Independent School feeding over 1600 kids, then at Holy Family Catholic Church for 15 years as the Cafeteria Manager.

She also spent Sundays during football season at Texas Stadium running several concessions stands and rooting for her Cowboys.

Joe and Opal retired to their farm in Hamilton, and after several years of traveling, opened a barbecue restaurant, JO’s BBQ. JO’s served the Hamilton community for 15 years before being sold because of Joe’s declining health. After Joe’s passing, Opal remained on the farm. She loved gardening and cooking for neighbors. She moved to Atria Carrollton in February of 2015.

Opal was known for her good home cooking (hot rolls, in particular), gracious hospitality, fierce independence and her sense of humor with a bit of sass. She would walk in a room and you could feel her kindness and love. She was the sweetest! And if she liked you, she would call you “sugar babe.”

She was the light in our life, quite a jokester and truly the gem of our family. If you had the great fortune to know her, you knew how special she was. How lucky we were having something that makes saying goodbye so hard. Godspeed, sweet Opal. You are loved tremendously and will be missed tremendously!

Opal is preceded in death by her parents, siblings and spouses.

She is survived by her son, William A. “Bill” Stevens and wife Suzanne; grandson Jeff Stevens and wife Lisa and great-granddaughter Lauren; and granddaughter Kimberly Stevens-Natvick and husband Steve.