Generous gift from former Murray State Regent Don Sparks celebrates life and legacy of Carolyn Sparks

MURRAY, Ky. — Retired Murray State University Regent Don Sparks of Mayfield, Kentucky, has generously established a scholarship for University students in honor of his late wife, Carolyn.

Through the Carolyn Lowe Sparks Memorial Scholarship established with Don’s gift to the Murray State University Foundation, graduates of Mayfield High School enrolled at Murray State full-time may apply for the $1,000-$1,500 annual scholarship to lower the cost of their Racer education, starting with the 2020-21 academic year. Preference will be given to students pursuing a degree leading to a teaching certificate for any K-12 grade or subject, including learning behavior disorders/special education.

Don and Carolyn met and dated throughout high school and college in the 1950s before marrying in 1958, after they had each graduated from Murray State.

The Sparks’ lifelong love of learning was displayed in each of their careers. Carolyn was a beloved elementary teacher for nearly 30 years in Mattoon, Illinois and Mayfield. She served on the Mayfield High School Reunion Committee and the Mayfield-Graves County Retired Teachers Association for years, remaining deeply committed to her alma maters.

Don was known as the Mayfield High School basketball coach for years before going on to become the Mayfield Independent School District superintendent. In 1994, the former Washington Elementary School in Mayfield was renamed to Sparks Elementary School. It was consolidated with other local schools into Mayfield Elementary School in 2005.

Carolyn passed away on July 23, 2018. She and Don were married for 60 years, and have two children; Bradley Lowe Sparks and Donna Carol Sparks Moses, both of whom are University alumni. The Sparks have several grandchildren who knew her as “Nana” — Shelby Carol Moses Curtsinger, Logan Anne Sparks and Madeline Grace Moses, as well as a great-granddaughter, Anna Grace Curtsinger.

Anyone wishing to donate to this scholarship can contact Jamie Haynes in the Office of Development by telephone at 1-877-282-0033 or 270-809-3737 or by emailing her at Donations can also be made by mailing a check made out to the Murray State University Foundation (please write the name of the scholarship in the memo line) and sending it to Murray State University Foundation, c/o 200 Heritage Hall, Murray, KY 42071. Online gifts can be made at

Photo: Retired Murray State University Regent Don Sparks of Mayfield has generously established a scholarship for University students in honor of his late wife, Carolyn. Pictured in the front row from left are Brad Sparks, Don Sparks and Donna Sparks Moses. In the back row from left are Lynn Henderson, Mayfield High School counselor, Billy Edwards, Mayfield High School principal and Jamie Haynes, Murray State University assistant director of stewardship and donor relations.

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