John J. Sparkman, who represented Alabama in Congress for 43 years, has been named to the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame. He was responsible for bringing the Army's missile and rocket research facilities to Huntsville's Redstone Arsenal in the 1940s and for a wealth of legislation benefiting small business and small farmers.
Sparkman will be inducted during the Hall of Fame's annual luncheon Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 11:30 a.m. at The Club in Birmingham. For information and tickets to the luncheon, call Dr. C. G. Satterfield at (205) 879-2840 or N. E. Tate at (205) 968-0289.
Founded by the Alabama legislature in 1987, the hall recognizes men "whose lives have impacted the state, nation and world." Honorees must have been deceased for two years. Hall board members represent Alabama's seven congressional districts. The Birmingham Women's Committee of 100 sponsors the program. The hall is located in Samford University's Davis Library.
Sparkman (1899-1985) was born on a farm near Hartselle. He earned undergraduate, law and master's degrees from the University of Alabama, where he was editor of the student newspaper, study body president and a member of Phi Beta Kappa scholarship honor society.
After practicing law in Huntsville, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1936, where he served until being elected to the U.S. Senate following the death of Senator John Bankhead in 1946. He was Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson's vice presidential running mate in the 1952 campaign against Dwight Eisenhower.
Sparkman helped bring a chemical munitions plant and shell loading and manufacturing facility to Huntsville during the early 1940s. The plants later were known as Redstone Arsenal. As the space industry began to grow in the late 1940s, Sparkman convinced the Army to locate its missile and rocket facilities there.
Sparkman retired from the Senate in 1979. The Army recognized his support throughout his career by naming its administrative complex at Redstone the John J. Sparkman Center.