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Richard Sparks Honored for 35 Years of Service


Jan. 30, 2013. Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) recently honored Richard Sparks, President and CEO of the healthcare system, for 35 years of service to ARHS and the High Country. 

Appointing Sparks as the CEO “was one of the best decisions ever made for this organization,” shared Kenneth Wilcox, local businessman and member of the ARHS Board of Trustees. “Richard has guided us, brought the organization through difficult times, and envisioned what the needs were for this community.” 

During Sparks tenure, services such as dialysis, oncology and cardiology have been brought to the High Country. Physicians at the top of their respective specialties have also established practices in the region to enhance the medical offerings for residents and visitors.

Dr. Herman Godwin, Jr., Chief Medical Officer for ARHS, presented Sparks with a commemorative 35 year service pin at a recent leadership meeting and quoted Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”

Sparks received his undergraduate and his MBA from Appalachian State University (ASU). In 1994, he was appointed to the North Carolina Health Planning Commission Committee on Community Health Districts by Governor Hunt. He has served two terms on the policy committee and a 3-year term on the Board of Trustees for the North Carolina Hospital Association. He was also appointed to the Board of Trustees for the North Carolina School of Science and Math. 

He received ASU’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and the University’s Outstanding Service Award in 2010. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and serves on the Advisory Councils for the John A. Walker College of Business and the College of Health Sciences at ASU. 

“Richard has made decisions not on what would simply make money for the healthcare system, but based on what’s best for the community,” Wilcox continued.

Locally, Richard has served as Chair of the Watauga Chapter of the American Red Cross, President of the Boone Rotary Club, Chair of the March of Dimes Boone Walk, a member of the High Country United Way and as a trustee for the Grandfather Home for Children. In 2008, he received the Alfred Adams Leadership Award from the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce

“One person doesn’t accomplish these things alone,” Sparks said. “It is a team effort and we have a great team at ARHS. We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is still a lot to do.” 

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, like Sparks, remains committed to promoting health in the High Country, enhancing quality of life and simply “making life better.” Plans are underway to enhance current services, offer new services and build a state-of-the-art post acute care facility in Blowing Rock.  

For more information about Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, visit www.apprhs.org