Burton Sparer

April 16, 1925December 23, 2011

Obituary – Burt Sparer

Burt Sparer died on December 23 in Athens after a long life as a much loved husband, father, friend, and dynamic force for making the Athens he cared about a better place. A memorial service will be held Thursday, January 5, 2pm, at Congregation Children of Israel. He was a tall, charming, likeable, 86-year-old man with a shock of white hair, an affirmative personality, and a big smile. He loved to play tennis, play the harmonica, ride his Honda Gold Wing, and read books and news on his computer. He put his long arms and legs to work for the University of North Carolina varsity swim team. Born and raised in New York City, he served in the Army Air Force in Guam and Japan in World War II. A Master’s in Regional Planning from UNC prepared him for a career in every facet of city and regional planning, from helping plan the proposed port city of Santo Tomas in Guatemala to launching and leading the 9-county Northeast Georgia Regional Commission. For 15 years Burt toured the state on his Honda touring bike for the University’s Institutes of Government and Community and Area Development, in his role as planning advisor to Georgia’s city and county governments. (Colleagues dubbed him Medieval Knievel.) He retired in 1985 to start his second and favorite career as volunteer planner and community activist. He was director, Board member, or foot soldier for so many local causes and organizations. Burt revived a dormant Mental Health Association adding needed members and dollars; helped create Georgia Options, a groundbreaking program for the severely handicapped; put new life into the League of Women Voters (was the first man asked to join); and doubled the membership and clout of the Federation of Neighborhood Associations. The list goes on. A lifetime member of Congregation Children of Israel, Burt served as president and recorded 40 oral histories of congregation members that are archived in the UGA Library. Burt fought to protect green space and to save neighborhoods from big box stores. His advocacy resulted in the building of a neighborhood school and a park. He was honored by many awards, including a lifetime achievement award for his volunteer efforts by the Junior League. A trophy for his work in mental health sums it up: “he made a difference.” He is survived by his wife, Dot (Dorothy) Sparer of Athens; daughter Lisa Sparer and son David Sparer of Atlanta; sister-in-law Tanya Sparer of New York City; niece Ellen Sparer and family of Paris, France; nephew Michael Sparer and family of Woodstock, New York; and niece Carol Sparer-Zieve and family of Seattle. If you care to honor his memory with a gift, please consider contributing to a cause that benefits Athens, the city he loved. On line condolences may be made at Bernstein’s Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


  • Funeral Service Thursday, January 5, 2012

Burton Sparer

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Shirley Reines & Bonnie & Bill Jacobson

January 18, 2012

Dear Dot, Our family fondly remembers Burt for his warmth and friendship of so many years. Mom says, "Burt had a special gift for making everyone feel comfortable." Thank you for thinking of us at this difficult time. Please know that our sympathy and warmest thoughts are with you now.

Bob Wentworth

January 10, 2012

Dave, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Your Dad was a great guy.
Thanks for the call letting me know.
Bob Wentworth.

January 9, 2012

I just remember how quickly Burt could make me laugh really hard,,,He was one of the few people I'd ever met who knew of the Great Peujou, and when we first met him, he said to my husband, Hugh, "So YOU're the guy we had to clean all the toilets for!",,,,,,,,,I have fond memories of a sweet soul,,,and Dot, we can't imagine how much you'll miss him,,Bless you, Sugarlump, Anne Ferguson

Hugh Ferguson

January 9, 2012

Anne and I only saw Burt once every few years, over a half-century, during visits from afar, yet we always thought of him with warmth and affection, and we hate that he is gone. We are richer for having known him.

Sherry Crawley

January 5, 2012

Lisa, I'm so sorry to hear this news. My thoughts are with you and your entire family as you celebrate your father. Know you have friends nearby, and much love.

January 5, 2012

Dearest Dot, I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Please know that you and you family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Paige Carmichael and John Ahee

Sue Clanton (worked at PDRC)

January 4, 2012

Dot, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.

January 4, 2012

What a special man and dear friend Burt was. Losing him leaves a hole in all our hearts. Our family will never forget all he did for us, and he truly did make our community better. We will miss his great good humor and boundless enthusiasm (and his harmonica playing). With great love for him and for his family,
Dave, Mary and Eric Kissel

January 4, 2012

Hi Dot, We remember Burt for his great good humor and his infectious laugh. He was always ready to join in on projrcts and have a party. You couldn't ask for a better freind or buddy.
Herb and Rhea Siegel

Pat and Paul Tobias

January 4, 2012

Dear Dot, Lisa and David, We are sorry for your loss. To know Burt was a privilege. We will miss him. Your eloquent tribute is a reminder of how one caring person impacts not just their family but the community as a whole. You and the family are in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Pat Kagan Tobias and Paul Tobias.