ANNA — Mary Ada Pope Parks, 97, passed away quietly at 11:21 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Southeast Hospital in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. A few days earlier it had been determined she had heart and kidney problems.
Mary Ada was born Jan. 4, 1920, to Jeanette Austin and Hugh Kennedy Pope in Yorkville, Illinois.
She grew up on the family farm which raised cattle, sheep and hogs. Her father’s Red Polled cattle herd was well known at the national level. Farm life was always special to her.
As a farm girl, 4-H was part of her life and she gained an early appreciation of sewing. Throughout her teen years, her annual 4-H project was to make a dress. This training led to her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education at the University of Illinois.
While attending U of I, she met Walter D. Parks at the Wesley Foundation. They became engaged as Walter entered the Army in 1942. Walt’s first furlough was delayed until December, 1944. Upon returning to the United States on Dec. 24, 1944, he phoned Mary Ada and said it’s time to get married. One week later on Jan. 1, 1945, they were married. Walt returned to the war for another six months.
During the war years Mary Ada taught high school home economics at Normal and Ashton, Illinois. After the war, they lived in Galesburg, Moweaqua and Effingham, before moving to Anna in 1955.
Upon arrival in Anna, word got out that Mary Ada taught Home Economics. Dongola High School was in need of a teacher, and although not looking for a job at that time, she agreed to go back to teaching. She taught in Dongola for two years, then transferred to Anna-Jonesboro Community High School in 1957. Mary Ada loved teaching and she received a Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University.
After 32 years of teaching, both she and Walt retired from their jobs in 1984 and spent the next 25 years traveling and enjoying the fruits of their life-long labors.
Mary Ada was a member of Anna United Methodist Church, Illinois Retired Teachers Association, the Monday Club and Thursday Club (she was an avid bridge player), and was an inactive member of the Daniel Chapmen Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Mary Ada had several delights in her later years. Of course, being surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was number one, barely. Getting to play bridge was a close second. On bridge day her step quickened and enthusiasm increased. A third delight concerned Mary Ada’s uncanny memory of her many students. When a former student would walk up to her and introduce herself, the student may not have been immediately recognized, but the mention of her name brought back memories, and Mary Ada was usually able to let the student know that she was remembered.
Mary Ada is survived by her four children, W. David (Linda) Parks of Jonesboro, Floyd W. (Carole) Parks of Wellington, England, Diane M. Ward of Fort White, Florida, and Darryl W. Parks of Anna; five grandchildren, Maria J. (Jamie) Bridgeman of Cape Girardeau, John D. Parks of Anna, Rebekah S. (Allen) Plott of Anna, Charles F. (Tripp) Ward, III and Allison D. (Garrett) Courville of Fort White, Florida; 14 great-grandchildren, Clayton Bridgeman, Erikah, Emily, Esten and Evan Parks, Curtis, Amanda, Timothy and Daniel Plott, Charlie Ward, Nathan Benson, Landon, Mikalah and Madison Courville; a sister, Miriam Orr of Underhill, Vermont; a sister-in-law, Grace Pope of Harvard, Illinois; two brothers-in-law, Daniel Parks of Florence, Montana, and Roger Parks of Moweaqua; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Walter; two brothers, Charles and Austin Pope; and one brother-in-law, John Parks.
Mary Ada’s body has been donated to the Southern Illinois University Medical Department.
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, in the United Methodist Church in Anna, with Pastor Carl Johnston officiating. Visitation will be from noon until the hour of service at the church.
Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church of Anna or Union County Historical Society and will be accepted at the church.
Crain Funeral Home in Anna-Jonesboro is in charge of local arrangements.
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