Everything’s bigger in Texas – even the birthdays!
In late September, Ruth ‘Buttercup’ Sparks celebrated her 104 birthday – and she’s feeling just fine.
Sparks is one of the last living female WWII veterans, but while she joined the U.S. Navy in 1945, she was an immigrant to the States. Her family came over on a 10-day journey from Denmark – which she has less than fond memories of.
“When we came to this country in 1926, I had just turned 11. I was so seasick for 3 days. It was horrible.”
Her family first settled in Troy, New York, which has a large Danish community. But she hated the snow and would eventually move down South after she began her military service.
Sparks worked as both a mechanic and a secretary during the war as part of something called the U.S. WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) program, which was a branch of the Navy.
The purpose of the W.A.V.E.S. program was to send men on sea duty and replace them with women in shore jobs. The women – including Sparks – were fully enlisted members of the armed services.
Shortly after Sparks enlisted in the second group of W.A.V.E.S., she went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for boot camp and then Memphis, Tennessee for Aviation and Mechanic School.
After her training, she asked if she could be stationed in Texas, which is where she spent the remainder of her life. The Navy sent her to Corpus Christie where she served for 3 years.
That’s also where she met her husband Sidney Sparks.
When the couple retired in 1972, they moved to San Antonio, which is still her home to this day.
While Sparks is in an assisted living facility, she says she feels fine these days, which she credits to her Danish genes.
“Most of the Danish people are very healthy,” she insisted to KSAT News.
But she says she has always exercised as well – “and that has a lot to do with it.”
But there’s one more secret to her longevity – “and drinking!” she exclaimed. It’s clear that she still has some spark left in her as she joked around with her interviewer.
While she’s making headlines for her 104th birthday, her 100th was cause for celebration in her adopted city as well.
The Sparks’ – affectionately known as Sparky and Buttercup – were generous donors to the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, who rang in her centennial birthday and thanked her for over $100,000 in donations that she and her husband made throughout their time in San Antonio, including the endowment of the Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Sparks Fund in 1981, which provided scholarships to National Undergraduates of the Year.
Mrs. Sparks continued as a patron after the death of her husband.
And if you think she’s tired of birthday parties, you’d be mistaken. She blew out the candles at a party a few weeks back on a cake adorned with three candles – 1 and 0 and 4.
From giving interviews to blowing out candles at 104, we think there really might be something to those Danish genes!
Be sure to scroll down below to see a recent interview with this energetic 104-year-old.
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