MISSOULA — Dennis Bernard Sparrow, 67, of Missoula, passed away on Friday, July 7, 2017, after a three week battle against bacterial endocarditis at St. Patrick Hospital. He died in the arms of his loving and devoted wife, Marta Amelia Timmons, and was surrounded by his friends and family.
He was born on May 17, 1950, in Havre and was adopted by Bernard and Claris Sparrow of Great Falls. At Great Falls High School he was an all A student and was one of the founders of the rock band The Missing Lynx. The Missing Lynx went on to record two MGM records, as well as a number of singles, and was a hit on American Bandstand. The Missing Lynx went on to have the number one single for a number of weeks on KUDI’s top 100 and was the top seller at the Hi-Fi House. Dennis left the band in order to attend school at the University of California at Riverside and the University of Montana, majoring in chemistry among other things.
When Dennis was done with his academic endeavors he started working in the bicycle scene in Missoula. He started the bike shop The Cyclist in 1972 with John Schubert. Once he decided to focus on making bicycle frames, Dennis traveled to London, England, in 1975 and apprenticed with a Master frame builder. He returned to Missoula and founded New Era Bicycles in the early 1980s with Rick Stevens. Sparrow Bicycles were all made by hand and quickly developed a following. Even today his bikes are highly sought out by collectors. During this time in his life he was biking 100 miles a day and was involved with long distance biking events such as the Tosrv.
Dennis was never someone who let the moss grow under his feet and he decided to sell his interest in New Era to Rick Stevens and start a career as an IT director in Missoula. He also made custom leather pieces and furniture. Dennis was one of the early supporters of alternative lifestyles in western Montana, something he continued to do until his death.
At an early age Dennis learned to love shooting sports. He would ride out onto the prairie around Great Falls and go prairie dog hunting with his nephews when he was young. Shooting would become a life long love for Dennis. He was an expert marksman with handguns and went on to win many shooting competitions. Dennis was also an instructor for handguns and trained many shooters in the Missoula area. He was a founding member of the Western Montana Fish & Game Association and the Big Sky Practical Shooting Club in Missoula, and was a life member of the United States Practical Shooting Association.
On Oct. 17, 2014, he was introduced to Marta Amelia Timmons by a former girlfriend. After three years Marta wore Dennis down and he proposed to her. She would become his loving wife on Oct. 29, 2016. Not only did he marry Marta, but he also inherited a ready-made family, something he always wanted but never had. One of the highlights of his day was having dinner with the family and listening to the banter of family life as we ate dinner, and playing fetch with Athena, the family dog.
Dennis had many hobbies and interests throughout his life. When he was younger, before he hurt his knees and back, they included bicycling, camping, dancing and hiking. He was a good enough dancer that the girls would lineup at the Top Hat to dance with him. Later in life he enjoyed gardening, travel, attending parties and watching football, especially Griz football. He also enjoyed working in his shop building firearms. Dennis built both Marta and Sean Timmons varmint rifles so that we could all go prairie dog hunting together, something that we did this past year. But what he enjoyed the most was spending time with his new family.
His mother and father, who died six months apart while he was attending the University of Montana, preceded him in death. Dennis was survived by his loving wife, Marta Amelia; his daughters Maura Timmons, Muning Sun, and Mary Rose Timmons; his son Sean Ray Timmons; his brother Frank Piwarski; and his niece Sarah Urfer. He also leaves behind a large number of friends that loved him dearly.
A celebration of his life will be held for Dennis on Sunday, July 23, at The First Methodist Church of Missoula at 3 p.m. A reception will follow at 1320 Starwood Drive.
Instead of flowers please give a gift to The First United Methodist Church of Missoula; Pastor John Daniels has been very supportive throughout this difficult time.