Delmer (Del) Sparrowe, 91, a 26-year resident of Sonoma and World War II veteran, passed away Dec. 27, 2013, at Sonoma Valley Hospital. He is the beloved husband for 71 years of Eleanor (Ellie) Sparrowe; loving father of Janis Gottlieb, Beverly Springer, and Thomas Sparrowe; proud grandfather of Kristin Atkinson, Stephen Springer, Cherie Gottlieb, and Leah Sparrowe; adored great-grandfather of Maureen, Mackie, Django, Jimmy, Connor, and Sara Elizabeth.
Del was born April 27, 1922, to Thomas and Virginia Sparrowe in Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley High School. He was attending San Francisco Junior College when Pearl Harbor was bombed and soon after enlisted as a mechanic in the Army Air Corps. Before being deployed to the South Pacific, Del married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor (Ellie), in July 1942. He was a chief mechanic who serviced C-47s and a B-17C being used to transport troops from Bakers Creek, Australia, to New Guinea and back for R&R. On the morning of June 14, 1943, the B-17C crashed on take-off killing 40 of the 41 on board. Before the flight Del flipped a coin with another mechanic to see who would be on the plane. Del “lost” the flip and fortunately was not on board when it crashed. His misfortune was our gain. By the end of the war, Del had accumulated more than 150 combat hours and was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Metal. He may not have received a Purple Heart but he certainly had a golden heart to those that knew him.
After the war he became a dental technician and owned a successful and thriving dental lab for more than 35 years in Los Altos, and shared his learned skills and techniques to many students. After retirement, Del and Ellie moved to Sonoma where he spent many hours re-modeling their home and making fine cabinetry and furniture in his woodshop. He was an active member of Rotary International in Los Altos and Sonoma communities for over 50 years and always had a lighthearted joke to share with his fellow Rotarians.
To commemorate the Bakers Creek air disaster, a memorial was built in 1982. On the 60th anniversary of the crash, Del fabricated a model of a B-17C from wood and, with assistance, it was cast in bronze and shipped to the memorial where it was mounted a longside a C-47 propeller and names of those who perished that day.
Please join Del’s family at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Duggan’s Mission Chapel, 525 W. Napa St., Sonoma to celebrate his life. Instead of flowers, the family requests that a donation be sent to Hospice By The Bay, 190 W. Napa St., Sonoma, CA 95476.
Duggan’s Mission Chapel