Gudrun Ingeborg Sparling
Gudrun Ingeborg Sparling passed away peacefully in Whitehorse on Monday November 5, surrounded by family and friends. She was 92. Goody is survived by her brother: John Erik Erickson of Whitehorse; her two sons: Joe Sparling (Debra) of Whitehorse and John Sparling of Vernon, BC; her daughters: Kristy Charlton (Bill) of Vernon and Karen Sparling (Glynn) of Prince George, BC; her four grandchildren: Benjamin (Bethany), Gina (Sean), Karla (Brendan) and David; her niece: Lisa Erickson (Ken) and nephew: John Paul Erickson of Whitehorse; great-nephew: Ryann Eby (Amber); and great-great-nieces: Aliya and Ashlynn.
The family thanks Dr. Sally MacDonald and all of the caregivers at the Thomson Centre and Macaulay Lodge. Many of them connected with Goody on a personal level—going above and beyond to provide kind and thoughtful care—giving her a perfect final chapter to a wonderful life.
In keeping with Goody’s wishes, please consider a donation to your favourite Yukon charity in lieu of flowers.
A celebration of life will be held for Goody with the time and place to be announced in January 2019.
On February 10, 1926, Goody was born inWhitehorse, the daughter of John Olaf (Ole) and Kristina Erickson.
Ole was an adventure seeker, a quality he passed along to Goody. He left his home in Malungsfors, Sweden in 1898 and sailed to the Canary Islands, South Africa, Hawaii, Australia and Seattle—where he learned of the Klondike Gold Rush. He joined the thousands of gold seekers who journeyed to Dawson City, and prospected on Eldorado Creek. In the early 1920s—after a stint carrying mail between Whitehorse and Dawson and prospecting near Burwash—he returned to Sweden to marry his childhood sweetheart. They moved to the Yukon together and first settled at Silver City (at the south end of Kluane Lake) and, with a family on the way, Ole purchased the Regina Hotel in 1925. Gudrun was born the following year.
Growing up in the hotel provided a unique childhood for Goody and her younger brother, John Erik. With a hotel lobby for a living room and a busy hotel dining room as a space for family meals, the constant flow of guests made for lively company. The guests delighted in the potbelly wood-stove, comfortable chairs, crib boards and cards—and the Erickson family welcomed them with family-style meals and home-cooked specials. Kristina made sure the rooms were spotless and that her children—and guests alike—were always on their best behaviour.
In Goody’s first year she met Evelyn (Babe) Richards—becoming lifelong friends who shared experiences of school and winter travel (via horse and sleigh while tucked in under buffalo blankets), and watched the evolution of transportation in the territory from steamships and rail to airlines such as Pan Amin the 1940s.
After graduation from Lambert Street School in Whitehorse, she attended Teachers’ College in Vancouver and returned to the Yukon to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in Carcross.
The adventuresome streak she inherited from her father came to a fore in 1948 when she met Joseph T. Sparling Sr.—an American construction superintendent who was involved in the construction of the Alaska Highway. They married in Las Vegas and settled for a time in Edmonton and Vancouver, where they raised four children: Joe, Kristy, John and Karen. They later retired to Palm Springs, California.
After her husband passed away in 1978, Goody returned to Whitehorse to run the family hotel with her brother. Over the next 19 years, she pursued her passion for Yukon tourism, the preservation of history and culture, and community development by serving on almost a dozen boards—including Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, Yukon Order of Pioneers, Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, the Anglican Church Women’s Group, Yukon Foundation, and the Vancouver Yukoners’ Association. She was also an avid reader, delighted in the performing arts, participated in the senior games, and cared for her flowers. Those who were close to her will think fondly of her passion for pink and glamour—and all things chocolate.
She was recognized in 2002 as a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal and in 2008 she shared a Yukon Lifetime Achievement Award in Heritage with her dear friend, Babe Richards.
Most of all, she will be remembered for her hospitality, friendships, and kindness. She will bemissed.