Archived Story

Potato salad to you

Published 2:43pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If I could ask you all to indulge me this week, I would like to share a few words about someone celebrating a milestone birthday today. I have the great pleasure of not only having this person as my pastor but also calling him my friend.

I met Robert “Sparky” Sparkman nine years ago when he was appointed as the new pastor of Hartselle First United Methodist Church. When I found out he was an Auburn graduate I just assumed he would be an OK guy. My feelings on this assumption have not changed. In fact, he has not only proved to be a great shepherd to his flock but also a man I am proud to call my friend.

My wife Lynn and I were able to get to know Robert and his wife Debi better while attending football games together while our sons were playing for Hartselle High. Even though both boys are now young men we still find time to get together and enjoy a meal and during the season spend time watching Auburn football.

I did get a little concerned last year when he shared with me that after his next birthday I would think he would be too old to be my friend. Well, I found the words to an old song by Andrew Gold from 1978 that I think are an appropriate response to that remark:


Thank you for being a friend

Traveled down the road and back again

your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant


And when we both get older

With walking canes and hair of gray

Have no fear, even though it’s hard to hear

I will stand real close and say,

Thank you for being a friend.


Now we may not need a walking cane as of yet and I think our hearing is still good, but the gray and some white hair has already taken over. Life does pass by so fast but sharing it with good people really makes it more enjoyable.

So Robert, I do hope you have a great birthday and that you are able to celebrate many, many more as well. My hope is that you’ll also get to spend as many more years at FUMC of Hartselle as you wish.

Just to prove that I do listen to your sermons, if you go before I do I will lift a spoon of potato salad up in honor of you after the services. God bless you my friend.

Randy Garrison is the president and publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer.

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