Keithley Bowen Sparrow, 74, died peacefully on June 13, 2020 at Hospice of Northwest Ohio. He was born June 11, 1946 in Worchester, Mass., to Charles Bowen and Paula Little Sparrow, who met at a camp for aspiring actors and performers. Raised in Washington D.C. and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School there, Keith kept lifelong close ties with his high school friends. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1967 and attended American University in Washington, studying journalism. He became an editor at the Alexandria (Va.) Gazette before moving west to join the Toledo Blade. Working as the Blade’s court reporter sparked his interest in law. Enrolling at the University of Toledo Law School and graduating in 1977, Keith chose to practice family law and carved a career spanning over 40 years. A vigorous booster of his profession, he was active in the Toledo Bar Association for over 40 years, serving on many committees including lawyer referral, domestic relations, professionalism, and juvenile court. He also served on the Fee Arbitration and Grievance Investigation subcommittees, chaired the Bar Admissions committee, and was active in the Ask the Attorney program. Despite all his duties, Keith found time for many Pro Bono cases over his career. A trained mediator, some of his favorite work was as a Guardian ad Litem for families. Colleagues appreciated his pragmatic approach to the law and willingness to mentor and support other attorneys.
Keith loved Toledo and his Old Orchard neighborhood. He volunteered at many organizations including the Arts Commission, Toledo Grows, Toledo Pride, Children’s Rights Council, Toledo Roadrunners, and Mobile Meals. An officer of the Old Orchard Neighborhood Association, Keith also supported the Valentine Theatre, Toledo Museum of Art, and Toledo Symphony. He was a longtime member of Trinity Episcopal Church.
An avid reader and book collector, Keith was an accomplished sailor and longtime member of North Cape Yacht Club who especially enjoyed sailing with family and friends. His yearly voyages with friends Larry, Terry, Mike and Sheldon highlighted many summers and spawned adventures and stories to fill a lifetime. He enjoyed traveling, cars and all genres of music. One of Keith’s favorite spots was his family’s cottage in northern Michigan where family and friends gathered. He visited there frequently. He also was a fervent Mud Hens and Detroit Tigers fan who loved introducing new fans to the game. He was a bighearted and generous man who loved to share experiences and support energy, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit wherever he saw it. He will be remembered by those who knew him as quick-witted, funny, warm and giving of his time and spirit.
Keith loved his family and being a husband, father and grandfather were his most important roles. He is sadly missed and lovingly remembered by his wife of 33 years, Suzanne Smitley; beloved son, Ethan B. Sparrow (Gemma Kim) and the apple of his eye, granddaughter Alafair Kim Sparrow. Also surviving are brother-in-law, Christopher Smitley (Cheryl); niece, Kyle Smitley (Alex Rhea) and daughters, Wyatt and Sawyer; niece, Hannah P. Smitley; nephew Zack (Amberly) Smitley and family; Keith’s favorite octogenarian, Gerry Evans; and Glen Menendez and family, Lisa Geary and family, and Ann Peart and family, who are the children of his late sister, Dana Sparrow Menendez. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, and brother-in-law, Brian D. Smitley.
The family suggests you hold your loved ones close, sit by the water and enjoy some live music. Donations in Keith’s memory are suggested to North Cape Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program, Toledo Community Foundation, or the Toledo Bar Association Foundation for Pro Bono Legal Services.
Join us for a virtual celebration of Keith’s life on Wednesday, June 24 at 7pm. Visit Trinity Toledo’s Facebook page or website (www.trinitytoledo.org) for a link to join us. Keith will be laid to rest at Trinity Episcopal Church at a private family service at a future date. Professional services were provided by Reeb Funeral Home (www.reebfuneralhome.com).
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