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Sparanga, Joeseph

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Joseph “Joe” John Sparagna, 87, died on Monday, June 17, 2024, at home with family by his side.

Joe was born April 23, 1937, in Chicago, IL, to Joseph and Jennie Sparagna. After graduating from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, with an electrical engineering degree, he soon made his way to Silicon Valley, where he worked most of his career. Joe worked in several government system labs, achieving the title of VP and General Manager at ESL, Inc.

In 1990, Joe married Betty in Sonora blending their two families. For the next six years they lived and traveled throughout the East Coast and Southern California. When Joe retired in 1996, they moved permanently to Sonora.

Because of Joe’s love of model trains, he built a “train room” where he spent many hours. “Grandpa Joe” loved entertaining his grandchildren in his train room. At Christmas time, the grandchildren of friends were always welcome. His love of trains led him to become a docent at Railtown 1897 SHP for over 20 years. Most Saturdays you could find Joe giving tours of the roundhouse.

Joe also became a member of SCORE, teaching “How to Write a Business Plan” at Columbia College. A SCORE member introduced him to the Tuolumne County Museum in 1999, and he found another passion – history. Joe was a past-president of the Tuolumne County Historical Society and active in many fundraising events. He was instrumental in bringing back the Jamestown Branch Jail and helped design the Jamestown Museum with a replica blacksmith shop.

In 2001, Joe was appointed a Mother Lode Fair board member serving 14 years. In 2012, the 75th anniversary of the Mother Lode Fair, he and his wife self-published a book, History of the 29th District Agricultural Association, which was used as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Fairgrounds.

Joe is survived by his wife Betty; sons Dan Sparagna (Stacy), Doug Sparagna (Donna), and stepson David Seago (Kelli); six grandchildren: Richard Seago (Tess), Alec Sparagna (Victoria), Jack Sparagna, Chase Sparagna, Ryan Seago, and Skotlynn Sparagna; and one great-grandson: Levi Seago. He was preceded in death by his parents Joseph and Jennie (Troiola) Sparagna and sister JoMarie Kerin.

A celebration of life will be held on July 20, in the Creekside building at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Adventist Health Sonora Hospice. Thank you, Hospice team, for your loving support!

  • Age: 87
  • Celebration of Life: July 20, in the Creekside building at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds at 3:00 p.m