Harold Gene “Sparky” Songer of Danville passed away at 1:53 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis.
Services will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at Pape Family Funeral Home, 10 E. Williams St., Danville, with Rev. Phil Jackson officiating. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Pape’s. Burial will be in the Danville National Cemetery with military honors by the American Legion Post 210.
Sparky was born March 4, 1925, in Veedersburg, Ind., to Glenwood and Elsie (Clawson) Songer. He attended Veedersburg grade school and high school, later returning to Eastern Illinois University and earning a bachelor’s degree.
Sparky was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II in July of 1943. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest as a mortarman in the U.S. Army 106th Infantry Division, where he was captured and remained a captive in Germany until his escape in 1945.
He re-enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War, and served in both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as flight support. For his service, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Sparky served as coordinator of Veterans Affairs at DACC from 1979 to 1994.
Sparky was a longtime and charter member of Danville Sunrise Rotary, where he served as sergeant of arms for many years. He was the 68th AMBUC First Citizen in April 2000. Sparky also led a group of local veterans who collected tens of thousands of aluminum cans to raise money to build the various memorials in Danville. He also was the one who led the effort to turn the old Carnegie Library into the Vermilion County War Museum, where he later served as president and director, donating thousands of hours leading tours. During this time, he was awarded the Studs Terkel Award in 2004 for his service.
Sparky married Eloise Cooper on Jan. 9, 1955, and she preceded him in death in 2006.
He leaves behind a son, Aaron (Lisa) Songer; a daughter, Michele (Brian Bonebrake) Songer; six grandchildren, Brandon Bays, Ashley Songer, Taylor Songer, Samantha Songer, Seth Bonebrake and Cade Bonebrake; four great-grandchildren; and a sister, Julia Crane. Sparky also leaves behind his loving cat Hemingway, who has been his companion and source of comfort since he lost Eloise.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving wife, Eloise; two brothers, James and Leroy Songer; and a sister, Wanda Kester.
Memories and messages for the family may be left on the Pape Website at www.papemortuary.com, or on the Pape Family Funeral Home Facebook page.