Our mother, Joan Arlene Schanzenbach Parks, passed away Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, age 88, after a long battle with cancer. Joan was born Nov. 20, 1933, in Midland, South Dakota, and grew up on the family farm 25 miles north of Midland. She graduated from Midland High School where she was Valedictorian and President of the Yearbook Club. She attended nursing training in Pierre soon after graduation and enjoyed time with her good friend Janice Lowe Hannah and the other friends she made there. After completing nursing school, she worked in Belle Fourche and loved her job. Mom recalled the fun novelty of buying new items of clothing with every paycheck. Even while undergoing chemotherapy and infusion treatments, mom would dress in beautiful outfits with jewelry lovingly given by her daughters.
Mom grew up in a small home tucked into the side of a hill her first 18 years, but stayed in Midland while going to high school. She lived in an apartment during the week with her good friend Mary and would travel to the farm on weekends. She enjoyed her schooling, her friends, and the different activities she was involved in. Mom had fond memories of their farm and her brothers James and Ivan Schanzenbach. This is where she developed her optimistic attitude, her good-natured humor, and resiliency to navigate any obstacle with patience and hard work. Mom would share stories of the fence line telephone, where the Fosheim sisters would share the events of the day, raising chickens, walking to elementary school in storms, locking her grandmother in the outhouse while her mom laughed, helping her mom cook, and caring for her dad prior to his passing. Until our Grandma Schanzenbach’s passing, mom and Grandma spoke every Sunday. South Dakota and the people always had a special place in mom’s heart and she spoke of it fondly.
Mom married Farrell Parks in Lead, South Dakota, June 18, 1960, and was later sealed in the LDS Logan Temple, in Logan, Utah. Mom moved quite a few times while her family was young, spending the last eight years in assisted living in Tooele, Utah. She spent most of her adult life in Bluewater, New Mexico, where her husband was a miner. There, she lovingly raised seven children, teaching them to be kind, to work hard, the importance of education, both formal and informal, and how to serve. Mom’s candied divinity, fudge, sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls were popular in the community, and during the holidays she shared them freely. Her fried chicken, gravy, and beef stew would make even the best chefs sing her praise. When asked about her dinner recipes she simply said, “I just throw things together, but I think it’s the bouillon cubes.” Mom had a green thumb and loved flowers and gardening, and even worked in a flower nursery and greenhouse for a few years to help support her family. She loved watching the hummingbirds and butterflies that would visit what she grew.
We always knew our mother loved us and she sacrificed so much for her children. She navigated the challenges of life with a positive attitude, which was evidenced throughout her life, but especially these final years while she battled cancer in 2017 and then again in 2022. We could always count on a smile, good conversation, and a listening ear. She was very accepting and always tried to see the good in people.
Her friends all spoke of how good a listener mom was and how she helped them as they navigated obstacles in their later years. Some lessons learned from our mother are to always view challenges with optimism and hope, to always share a friendly smile and kind words, and to pray continually for God’s help in all things. Mom would frequently say when asked how she overcame some challenge that “praying was all I could do sometimes, and it seemed to work.”
Mom is survived by her seven children, 30 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, with three on the way. She also has many cousins in South Dakota who she often spoke of fondly.
Preceding her in death were her mother and father Esther and John Schanzenbach; her two brothers James, and Ivan Schanzenbach; and her husband, Farrell Parks.
We would like to give our heartfelt thanks to the Cottage Glen staff for their years of care and kindness and especially the sweet tenderness they showed her the last couple of months. Mom was always so appreciative of the Cottage Glen staff. Thank you to Rocky Mountain Hospice for their recent care and a special thanks to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Dr. Shah, who cared for mom like he would his own grandmother. Thank you, Mom, for being who you were, we love you, and we’ll miss you.