For a few days each year, siblings Gary Sparks, Gail Boggs, Elaine Wiler and Eileen Roberts are all the same age.
Born as two sets of twins 11 months apart, the brothers and sisters came into the world as non-identical (Gary and Gail) and identical (Elaine and Eileen) twins – four of nine children of parents George and Lorraine Sparks of Webbville.
They reunited in August to celebrate on the day before the younger twins’ 71st birthday, when they were all 70 years old together for a few more hours.
“Daddy was so proud of his twins,” Elaine said, a warm smile on her face as she noted their mother made them matching outfits which they wore while attending Louisa High School (Gary and Gail were members of the last graduating class at Blaine High School, she added).
“Gary is a preacher and all three girls married preachers!” she interjected, adding Gary is pastor at Three Pines Freewill Baptist Church.
While extremely close to each other, each set of twins had their own approach to life. Elaine confessed she and Eileen enjoyed mischief and being able to step into one another’s identity.
“Eileen and I was notorious,” she said with a giggle. “We fooled dad. We never could fool mom. Mom could tell by our walk, or a cough … We fooled the teachers. Boy friends – we switched dates and they never knew.”
“They both could do that rather well,” their brother Gary said, smiling as he noted they would “get in a blame game and switch names.”
He said his relationship with his twin was likewise close, although entirely different.
“Gail has always been such a loving, tender, caring person. She would almost take the blame for something … especially for me,” he said, later adding his sister even ironed his clothes for him when he started dating.
“My twin sister was so protective of me and thinking ahead of me … your spirits are conjoined – your hearts and your thinking are conjoined,” he said. “Eileen and Elaine had the same thing.”
Their father passed in 2013, but their mother is “will be 92 and is still raising a a garden and canning everything,” Wiler said. “We call her Proverb 31 Woman.” Her mother’s mother also had two sets of twins (A boy and a girl and then two girls – the same thing.”), she said, although the family had a 70 year absence of twins after she and her sister were born.
Gary said he marvels at the wonderful job their parents did raising them, explaining their father started as a steel worker who then served in the Navy before coming home to work as a mail carrier, tobacco farmer, brickyard worker and a boilermaker with Local 105. “I’m thankful we were raised poor. But we were so rich! We’ve been protected and provided for all of our lives,”
“And our mother was an amazing lady and still is today. She picked a five-gallon bucket of green beans yesterday!”
Story by Tim Preston/Photos Courtesy of of The Family
Carter County Post