In Memoriam

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

Bill Sparkman was a field interviewer for the Census Bureau who was found dead, hanging from a tree, in Clay County, Kentucky, on September 12, 2009. A memorial for Bill was held on Monday, Oct. 26, a very sad event for all of us at the Census Bureau. I prepared the following remarks for his memorial:

“Bill Sparkman was a colleague to over 6,000 field interviewers throughout the U.S. and 6,000 other staff in the central office of the Census Bureau in D.C. The job that Bill conducted for us is a key part of what is an honorable and important facet of a democracy. He and all his colleagues have the simple goal of producing information that permits the public to judge how the nation is faring. This task is the engine of an informed populace.

“The interviews he conducted over his years as a field representative were combined with many others throughout the country. The information was summarized in key statistical information provided freely to the public about the health and welfare of the population. Through that, we as a people could make our own judgments about whether a change in direction of the country was prudent.

“Bill took an oath to keep that information confidential. That oath of confidentiality and the professionalism that he displayed in his job is the real measure of the success of the Census Bureau because it determines whether the public believes our estimates and trusts the information. Without that credibility the work of our agency has no value.

“Although we may never know for sure, it is very likely that Bill died performing his duties as a Census Bureau interviewer. In that regard, he is a hero to us, one that deserves to be remembered for his contributions to the country. We will never forget him, and we honor his memory.”

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10 Responses to In Memoriam

  1. Thomas F.Frost, Jr. says:

    I was an enumerator for the 1980 Census. I heard many reports concerning assaults on staff members. I don’t think people are aware of the dangers involved. I wasn’t attacked, and I believe that was because of being very careful concerning the situations I was involved in. Inner city work is different than rural areas. There just seemed to be negative attitudes about gov’t asking the kind of appropiate questions.So that responsible budget appropiations can be rationally constructed. I later worked for the State Treasury department and saw how complicated these appropiations can be!!
    Sincerely yours,
    TFFrost, Jr.

  2. Thomas F.Frost, Jr. says:

    I was an enumerator for the 1980 Census. I heard many reports concerning assaults on staff members. I don’t think people are aware of the dangers involved. I wasn’t attacked, and I believe that was because of being very careful concerning the situations I was involved in. Inner city work is different than rural areas. There just seemed to be negative attitudes about gov’t asking the kind of appropiate questions.So that responsible budget appropiations can be rationally constructed. I later worked for the State Treasury department and saw how complicated these appropiations can be!!
    Sincerely yours,
    TFFrost, Jr.

  3. Thomas F.Frost, Jr. says:

    I was an enumerator for the 1980 Census. I heard many reports concerning assaults on staff members. I don’t think people are aware of the dangers involved. I wasn’t attacked, and I believe that was because of being very careful concerning the situations I was involved in. Inner city work is different than rural areas. There just seemed to be negative attitudes about gov’t asking the kind of appropiate questions.So that responsible budget appropiations can be rationally constructed. I later worked for the State Treasury department and saw how complicated these appropiations can be!!
    Sincerely yours,
    TFFrost, Jr.

  4. Robert Gibson says:

    Did he not commit suicide ?

  5. Keith W says:

    I feel that much of the public is not aware of the purpose of the census and how these men and women are doing their jobs and collecting data and keeping it confidential. Bill Sparksman is an American hero who died defending democracy and not revealing the private data. This is not the first time an event like this has happened though,these field interviewers are constantly harrassed verbally and as you can see in this case physically as well. The American public needs to be informed as to the duties of these interviewers and why their participation is necessary to the democratic system.

  6. Julie Koch says:

    Wasn’t it determined at the last that it was suicide and if so maybe the talk by Mr. Groves should be adjusted.

  7. bob kaufman says:

    I’m just amazed how much money you spend on mail for this census, just more needles spending by our govt! I’ve had 3 reminders plus the census application, does this come under creating jobs or stupidity……….

  8. shakeraweldon says:

    Whats going on with the jobs .

  9. Disabled VET says:

    Bill Sparkman committed suicide, he was deceiving the public and being a fraud… Hope the so called money from the government is going to proper places, but isn’t it supposed to be for the community as well? So why do we have to pay for ambulances and why do police officers abuse their authority.

  10. Jerry Carman says:

    You can get the facts by Google-searching Bill Sparkman. The Clay County Sherriff’s Dept, KY State Police, & FBI all investigated. & concluded that Bill Sparkman committed suicide. He wrote FED on his chest & hung himself, & tried to make is look like a right-wing extremist murdered him. He had just taken out $500,000 worth of life insurance, which won’t pay off with a suicide.

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