Obituaries: Newman-Sparby, Schweda, Sonesen - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Obituaries: Newman-Sparby, Schweda, Sonesen

Debbi Newman-Sparby

Debbi Newman-Sparby: 1950 – 2021

Deborah L. Newman-Sparby, AKA “Teacher Debbi” or “Miss Debbi”, died peacefully on August 29, 2021 surrounded by her family.  

She fought a valiant and courageous 4-year battle of Stage IV lung cancer with such strength, grace and positivity.

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Debbi was a loving mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend, and cherished grandma “Nani” to her beloved 11 grandsons and one granddaughter.  

She was compassionate, creative, strong, fiercely independent, and selfless with her time to help anyone in need. She had a tenacity for learning new things and became quite the handy-woman, being able to fix and remodel just about anything around the house and set a great example to her children to be self-sufficient as well.

She touched the lives of everyone she came into contact with; she never met a stranger and loved to visit with everyone. She was a beacon of light, and many were drawn to that light. So many looked up to her.

We will all forever remember her powerful example, remembering her strength and courage with her long and difficult battle with cancer, her wit and beautiful smile, and the countless children whose lives she touched as she taught over the years as a teacher. She will be deeply missed by all those who loved her, but we know she will live on in our hearts and minds forever, and she will continue to do what she has always done, which is look over us and guide us. 

Debbi was born on August 10, 1950 in Cheyenne, WY to Esther White-Jensen and Merlin White.  

She married Craig Newman in 1972, and 11 years later they had three children: Paige Murdock of Billings, MT, Rachel Newman of Casper, WY, and Cole Newman of Oklahoma City, OK. 

Debbi taught elementary school in McFadden and Laramie, WY for her first three years after graduation. She worked in a law firm and in various legal positions until 1983, when she and Craig chose to start their beautiful family. She was fortunate enough to be able to stay home for ten years to raise her three children. 

Debbi was always drawn to young children and again began teaching in 1992. Her passion to see each child succeed was driven by countless hours of preparation and hard work to ensure her classroom was a fun environment to learn and play.

She taught preschool at First Christian Church, and then three years later began working at The Child Development Center, where she worked in the ladybug room teaching 3-year-old special needs children until she retired in 2014.  

During this time, she also received her endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education, which was an accomplishment she was very proud of.

In 2001, Debbi met her love and “Rock Star” Tom Sparby while dancing with her 83-year-old father Merlin White at The Beacon. They dated until they married in 2007.  

Together they shared a love of work and remodeling: whether it was landscaping their backyard, building their lovely sun porch and deck, working inside, or remodeling two rental properties, they always worked hard together and made a one-of-a-kind team. Tom is, and has always been, a fiercely loyal and loving companion.  

She and Tom shared countless laughs and stories.  One of their treasured routines was sharing time together every morning on the sunporch, drinking coffee and visiting. Tom has taken the best care of her and has always been by her side. He was supportive of all of her endeavors and ideas, including her flowers and vegetable garden.

Debbi’s love for gardening was so apparent and could be seen with her many colorful and beautiful flowers and her abundant vegetable garden. Debbi also enjoyed being active in many organizations. She was a member of Delta Delta Delta at The University of Wyoming, a member of PEO, a member of the Casper Ladies’ Adventure Group, and a member of Highland Park Community Church and Bible Study Group.  

Debbi always enjoyed being social and being part of these various groups, where she made many lifelong friends and deep connections along the way. 

Debbi is survived by her husband Tom Sparby; daughters Rachel Newman and Paige (Keith) Murdock; son Cole (Katy) Newman; seven grandsons Jackson, Traegan, Sawyer, Kyler, Truman, Weston, and Gunner; step-children Chris Sparby, David (Tina) Sparby, Beth Sparby; five additional grandchildren Zack, Ryan, Ella, Corbin, and Jacob; brothers Gaylan (Nancy) White and Jerry (Ann) White; step-dad Bill Jensen; and several nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, Debbi requested that donations be made to any of the following: Child Development Center, Central Wyoming Hospice, Meals on Wheels, or The Food for Thought program. 

A viewing will be held at Newcomer Cremations, Funerals & Receptions, 710 E. Second St., Casper, WY on Thursday, September 2 from 5-9 p.m.  

Funeral services will be held at Highland Park Community Church Saturday, September 4 at 2 p.m.  

A reception will be held following the service at the Keg and Cork, 5371 Blackmore Road, Casper, WY.


Mark M Schweda

Mark M Schweda: 1958 – 2021

Mark Schweda, 63, passed away at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colorado on Aug. 22, 2021 following a ruptured brain aneurysm. Mark was born in Traverse City, Michigan in 1958 to Evelyn (Chmielewski) and Larry Schweda. The oldest of four children, he grew up on the family farm in Michigan. Mark graduated from Springport High School in 1976 and Albion College in 1980 with a bachelors degree in City Planning. Finding no real job prospects in Michigan in 1980, he and his best friend and ATO brother Rick moved west. They settled in Denver, Colorado, where they both found employment.

Mark worked for Dave Cook Sporting Goods in downtown Denver, where he met and later married Jamie Hack. They transferred to Casper, where Mark managed the store in the new Eastridge Mall. He also spent several years employed by Mountain Sports, where he met many lifelong friends. Mark then made a career transformation and became a Financial Advisor, first employed by Piper Jaffray and then by RBC Wealth Management for the past 16 years.

Mark was raised Catholic, served as altar boy and had great respect for and strong faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal life. He was a dedicated Boy Scout, having achieved Eagle Scout as a teenager and then serving as Cub and Den leader. He also spent many seasons coaching basketball and volleyball for his children’s teams.

In 2009, Mark married Kelly Ford Robinson and started another chapter of his life. They enjoyed traveling, dining out, home improvement projects, family, friends, grandsons, old movies, old music and watching Jeopardy. Mark was an avid reader, reading 2-3 books a week as evidenced by his purchase history at Wind City Books and his home library. He wanted to own and keep every book. Mark enjoyed spending time on his Casper Mountain property, where he planned to build a cabin.

Mark was known for his easy smile, contagious (and loud) laugh, unending generosity (tempered with a bit of selfishness), thirst for knowledge and appreciation of his life he loved so much. He was the rock of his family. Mark raised a garden every year, growing flowers and vegetables from seed and giving away flowers, vegetables and homemade salsa. Mark is still giving to others with his gift of organ donation.

Mark was preceded in death by his grandparents and his father Larry Schweda.

He is survived by his mother Evelyn of Jackson, Michigan; wife Kelly; daughter Lindy (Josh) and her sons Braydon and Ayden Woody; son Matt; and step-son Shane Robinson, all of Casper. He is also survived by sister Gail (Morris) Perry, sister Janice (Ron) Adams, and brother Herb Schweda, all of Michigan; former wife Jamie Hack of Nebraska; and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Mark was recently blessed to be able to meet and spend time with his biological family: Mother Joyce (Ordway) Haehnle and half-brother Mike Donahue of Jackson, Michigan. Father Frank (Carol) McDonald of Grass Valley, California and half-brother Ted McDonald of Boise, Idaho. He was also preceded in death by half-siblings Kevin Donahue and Karen McDonald.

A memorial celebration of life will be held on Saturday, September 11 at 4 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Casper. Reception following to be announced.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, Wyoming Rescue Mission, Boy Scouts of America, St. Anthony Tri-Parish School, First United Methodist Church or donor’s choice.


Marilee W. Sonesen

Marilee W. Sonesen: 1927 – 2021

Marilee Waddell Sonesen, 94, of Casper, Wyoming and Yuma, Arizona died Thursday evening, August 26, 2021 while in the care of the Central Wyoming Hospice and Transitions.

Marilee was born in Midwest, Wyoming on July 4, 1927 to Seth Sylvester Waddell and Lila Longnecker Waddell. Marilee married Kenneth Emerson Sonesen of Brooklyn, New York on June 29, 1947 at the First Christian Church of Gillette, Wyoming.

Ken and Marilee had seven children: Jeff (Mary) of Douglas, Wyoming; Kennylee of Salome, Arizona; Kelly (deceased); Peggy (Bruce) of Yuma, Arizona; Lila (Gary) presiding in Fort Worth, Texas; Scott (Dr. Christina K McCann) of Casper, Wyoming; and James (Mary) of Casper, Wyoming. Marilee is a grandmother to 15 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren.

Marilee was a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother. She enjoyed her time with all of her family, especially watching each new generation of children. Marilee carefully crocheted or knitted blankets for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren that are treasured and cherished by all. Marilee loved to play cards, bake treats, golf, host guests, and sit around the table and tell stories. Marilee’s door was always open, and each guest was treated as though they were family. Regularly, the house was filled with the noise of her vibrant family, which she loved.

Once Marilee and Ken retired, they enjoyed the summers at the family cabin in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, and winters at their home in Yuma, Arizona.

Marilee is preceded in death by her parents Seth and Lila, her husband Ken, her children Kelly and Lila, and her grandson Christopher.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, September 3, 2021 at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery Chapel. A reception will be held following the services at the Elk’s Lodge at 108 7th St.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and the Central Wyoming Hospice.