Albany dry cleaner, 93, remembered for making history

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Family and friends in Albany said goodbye to Barry Buckner Sparks Jr., 93, on Thursday.

He was a man some of you may not have known, but he was a man worth knowing, because of his character, his hard work and his legacy.

Sparks became the first Black to open a dry cleaner – on Second and Swan streets in Albany’s Arbor Hill Area.

The former Albany High School student did not come from money. Before he opened his dry cleaners, poverty surrounded him.

The inability to even afford clothes for church brought him to tears one day.

That motivated him to become an entrepreneur. He later made himself a shoeshine box and went from shining shoes to owning a string of dry cleaners – including one on Wolf Road. He also kept his Arbor Hill location open.

Learn more about Sparks’ work ethic and how the city honored him in 2015 by watching the video of Elaine Houston’s story.