Mara Lou Sparks Hantze Denham 1925 - 2019

Known for her laugh, loved for her heart, Mara Lou Sparks Hantze Denham, originally from McMinnville and formerly of Lebanon, passed away July 4, 2019, in Albany, Oregon, at the age of 93. 
She was born December 19, 1925, in McMinnville, Oregon, to John Lewis Sparks (4/13/1894 - 10/13/1965) and Ida Ellena Hendry Sparks (8/25/1896 - 9/6/1988), and had one brother, Dale Sparks, who predeceased her.
After graduating from McMinnville High School, where she was a drum majorette, she began her banking career October 1, 1943, at US National Bank in McMinnville. She later met her first love, Frederick Junior “Curley” Hantze (6/18/1918 – 1/6/1989). They married August 2, 1947, and moved to Lebanon, Oregon. Lou continued to work in local banks, First National Bank and Bank of Lebanon before being rehired by US National Bank on September 1, 1964, when they opened a branch in Lebanon. During her banking career, Lou was also very involved in local chapters of BPW and the American Institute of Banking, serving as chairman in both organizations. She remained employed with the bank until ultimately retiring in 1989. 
After the passing of Curley Hantze, Lou later met the second love of her life, Ralph H. Denham (7/23/1921 - 8/8/2002). They married July 8, 1989, and continued to live in Lebanon until 2001, when they moved to Mennonite Village in Albany. After Ralph passed, Lou remained in Albany and resided in an adult family home and finally at Timberwood Court Memory Care facility. 
Lou loved to dance, even teaching her brother how to jitterbug so she could have a dance partner. Her other interests included bowling, traveling and camping with her family. One favorite camping spot was on the family’s lot overlooking Yaquina Bay in Newport. Even though Lou did not grow up on a farm, she learned to ride horses, pull a horse trailer and became a co-leader of her daughters’ 4-H Horse Club so she could be involved in their activities. Lou would often spend her only yearly vacation from the bank either hauling horses to and from county and state fairs or hauling hay for her girls’ horses. She rarely took vacations for herself. 
Lou knew no strangers and was willing to talk to anyone. She had an infectious laugh everyone knew and a willingness to help her family and friends. 
While living in Lebanon, she attended St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. When she moved to Albany, she would attend St. Albin’s Episcopal Church. 
Lou is survived by her daughters, Monita Hantze (Jeff) Cheever of Newport, Oregon, and Melanie Hantze (Dean Jenkins) of Olympia, Washington; as well as her grandson, Tristan Jenkins Hantze; and step-granddaughter, Laura Jenkins. Lou was fortunate to also have step-daughters, Pam (Les) Osborne of Lebanon, Colleen Glenn (deceased) and Pat Kenyon (deceased); and step-son, Frank (Joan) Glenn of Coos Bay. She is also survived by step-grandchildren, Steve (Heather) Kenyon of Lebanon and Shawna (Eric) Blackwell of Texas; and step-great-grandchildren, Bonnie Jo (Devin) Peckfelder, Sarah (Zach) Marler and Maggie Kenyon, all of Lebanon.    
The family wishes to thank the many friends and family who showed their love to Lou by sending cards and visiting her during her final years when she was residing in assisted living facilities. In particular, we want to thank Marla and Bruce McKee, Paula Harden, Laura Wallace Dickson, Amy Williams, and Don and Barbara Pierce for their numerous visits, cards and assistance to Lou and her family. 
A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, August 17, 2019, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon. The family suggests any memorial contributions be made to St. Martin’s Church, 257 E. Milton Street, Lebanon, Oregon 97355; BrightFocus Foundation for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, Maryland 20871; American Macular Degeneration Foundation, P.O. Box 515, Northhampton, MA 01061-0515, or a charity of your choice.

 

 

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