Sept. 1, 1948 – Nov. 9, 2019

Irene Sparks was born Sept. 1, 1948, at Brandon General Hospital, to her loving parents, Rhoda Emily Tomlin and Coronous Joseph “Joe” Mears. Irene lived and attended school in Brandon, MB, until her family moved to Melville, SK, in 1963. It is here, in the apartment building where they were living, that she met the love of her life, Clifford. The two of them were united in marriage on May 31, 1966. Their family soon grew when they welcomed two daughters, Tammy in 1970 and Candace in 1975.
Irene gained employment by looking after children and working various cleaning jobs. She was well known for her generous, good heart, which showed in her many thankless hours volunteering for two organizations: People Empowering People and the Melville and District Food Bank.
Irene spent many hours with friends and family playing cards, Aggravation and board games until all hours of the night. She enjoyed knitting, loved attending a good game of hockey and found a love for Nintendo when it first came out. Irene was blessed with the ability to sing and play music, which she loved to do very much. She also loved to dance, which Cliff and Irene did any chance they got.
Many would describe Irene as a quiet, gentle, patient and caring person. She cared for many in her time. Whether it be a person or an animal, Irene would give it her all! Not often could her feathers be ruffled. She was always the calm in the chaos, right to her final last days.
In 2000, after a long night of doing Christmas Hampers for the food bank, Irene came home and took a massive heart attack. This led to a triple bypass, which altered her life forever. Although still an active woman, life came with restrictions. In 2016 Cliff and Irene moved back to Brandon to spend their last years with their family.  After Cliff’s passing, Irene and girls moved out to Rivers, MB, in December 2017 with grandkids in tow. She resided there until her passing.
Irene was a strong warrior, who fought her last battle on the early morning of Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, at the age of 71 years, at Assiniboine Center in Brandon, MB. Her family was by her side. She was reunited in heaven with her husband of 51 years, Cliff.
Irene was predeceased by her parents, Rhoda and Joe Mears; her eldest sister Alice Riopel; and her mother- and father-in-law, Evelyn and Wilbur Sparks. She leaves to cherish and embrace her memory: daughter Tammy Swabuck, granddaughter Stephanie and great-grandchildren Connor, Christopher and Sora of Rivers, MB; daughter Candace Sparks, grandchildren Kassidy and Dylan James of Rivers, MB; honorary daughter Sherisse Smee and grandson Caiden of Rivers, MB; sister Emily (Gary) Bright of Brandon, MB; as well as numerous nephews, nieces and extended family and friends.
A prayer service for Irene was held Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at Matthews Funeral Home, Melville, with Shelly Morris presiding. The funeral service took place Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at Matthews Funeral Home with Shelly Morris officiating.  Allison Whittmire and Candace Sparks gave eulogies, and the congregation listened to some of Irene’s favourite songs. The organist, Gaylene Matthews, led in the hymn “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”. That evening a dance was held to celebrate Irene and her love of music and dancing. Interment will take place at a later date in Hillside Cemetery, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. Irene’s journey on earth has come to an end. May she find peace and comfort. 
Arrangements were entrusted to Matthews Funeral Home, Melville.