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“Every Day Is Special”…the motto of this Big Time, Amazing Man, who touched countless lives throughout his fully lived 74 years, 4 months and 6 days on earth came to completion on August 2, 2023. Known for his enthusiasm, optimistic outlook, positive attitude, and “larger than life” personality, Gary Lamar “Sparky” Reeves was truly one-of-a-kind. As he told his children and grandchildren in his final week and in his humble spirit, “I have lived a GREAT life…”
Gary Lamar Reeves was born on March 27, 1949, in Zebulon, GA to Earl and Odessa Devereaux Reeves. “Little Lamar” first defied the odds when he was a baby and had an intestinal tumor removed at Egleston Hospital. The medical team informed Lamar’s parents that he probably wouldn’t live to be four years old. Lamar grew up in Thomaston, GA in the area known as the Silvertown Mill Village, as his parents worked at Martha Mills. It was during this time in which Lamar was given the nickname “Sparky” by his little league baseball coach who reminded him of a spark plug. Sparky was a dedicated Boy Scout and successfully earned his Eagle Scout in 1964. He graduated from Robert E. Lee High School on May 30, 1967.
After high school, Sparky attended Georgia Southwestern College where he was active playing several intramural sports, a member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, and was elected Archon of the Gamma XI Chapter. Sparky graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and obtained his master’s degree in 1973. Sparky also attended the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Dekalb College where he lettered on the soccer team. However, the most significant experience during his college years was meeting the love of his life, Patricia Allene Camp. Sparky and Allene married on August 8, 1971, and enjoyed 52 years of marriage in Americus, GA where they were blessed with three children, Kevin, Amanda “Mandy”, and Ryan. Sparky and Allene met several friends during their college days who have remained very close friends today.
After graduation, he worked as a salesman for Altair Homes, but his professional career blossomed at South Georgia Technical College in 1973. He served as an instructor, supervisor, and Vice President of Economic Development prior to being named President in 2004. He served as President from August 2004 through September 2015. He was the first sitting President in Technical College System of Georgia history to have the “President Emeritus” status voted on and approved, prior to his official retirement day. Sparky served the college for over 42 years but his biggest impact on the college and communities was during his tenure as President. His “Every Day is Special” vision grew the South Georgia Technical College Foundation from $3.7 million to $8.2 million in assets; eight endowed scholarships to 22 endowed scholarships; and 52 to more than 150 scholarships. Sparky founded the “President’s Club,” exceeding $1 million in annual gifts. He was also instrumental in establishing the “Two Great Choices, One Great Community” partnership between South Georgia Technical College, Georgia Southwestern State University, the City of Americus, Sumter County and local businesses. Sparky and Allene established an endowed scholarship with the SGTC Foundation in 2010, making him the first President to endow a scholarship with the foundation. He served on the Technical College System of Georgia State Foundation Board after retirement through 2022.
Before his retirement in 2015, Sparky defied the odds once again after undergoing quintuple heart bypass surgery. The surgeon gave him six-nine months to live. Sparky made the decision to retire from South Georgia Technical College in September 2015 and enjoyed seven years of leisure and travel. True to his nature and against all odds yet again, Sparky survived cardiac arrest in November 2022 and made a full recovery. For the last year, he battled an aggressive type of leukemia, living nine months longer than anticipated. It would be wrong to say he lost this battle. He was a determined fighter, remained positive and kind, and showed unbelievable resilience and grace that his children and grandchildren will carry on.
Sparky’s hobbies included: golf, time at Sugar Beach/Panama City Beach, oldies music, movies, Georgia Bulldog football, playing craps at casinos, Pi Kappa Phi, and his family.
He received the following awards and honors during his lifetime: Americus Kiwanis Club Award; Americus-Sumter County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year; Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen’s Award; Business Council of Georgia Achievement; Governor South Georgia District Collegiate Civitan Club; GSW Aeolian Award; GSW Kaleidoscope Award; Outstanding Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow; Outstanding Service Award and inaugural Sparky Reeves Sumter Trustee Lifetime Achievement Award; President of GSW Civitan Club; Rotary Club Outstanding Citizen Award; Rotary Club “Paul Harris Fellow;” Sam Walton Business Leader; and Technical College Foundation of Georgia Benefactor of the Year.
He is survived by his wife, Allene Camp Reeves of Americus; children, Kevin Reeves (Jenny) of Americus, Amanda “Mandy” Reeves Young (Ryan) of Americus, and Ryan Reeves of Boulder, Colorado. Grandchildren, Parker Reeves, Will Reeves, Tate Young, and Reeves Young, all of Americus. Nieces and nephews, Cheryl Dieckmann of Kennesaw, George Dieckmann (Susan) of Newnan, Matthew Sandlin (Jennifer) of Sharpsburg, and Dani Johnson of Nashville, TN. Also surviving are sister and brother-in-law Marcia and Bobby Johnson of Kennesaw, GA.
A service is planned for Sunday, August 6, 2023 at 2 pm at Americus First Methodist Church in Americus, GA with Reverend Daryl Brown officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts may be made to the Sparky & Allene Reeves Scholarship at South Georgia Technical College, Americus, GA 31719 or the Pi Kappa Phi Gamma XI Legacy Scholarship at Georgia Southwestern State University Foundation, Americus, GA 31709.
Greg Hancock Funeral Chapel in Americus, GA is in charge of the arrangements.