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Carolyn Jean Parks was born on January 17, 1943 in her hometown of Mason City, IA and passed away during the early morning hours of August 27, 2019 in the presence of her loving mother, sons, and daughter-in-law.
Carolyn faced her recent diagnosis of cancer with courage, grace, and dignity. She was a wonderful woman that was loved, is missed, and will always be cherished. Although her time on earth was not long enough, her family celebrates the fact that Carolyn is at peace with her creator.
After attending McKinley grade school, Monroe Junior High and Mason City High School, she pursued a higher education with a concentration in English at North Iowa Community College. She participated in Girl Scouts and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, attaining the rank of Worthy Advisor in Rainbow Assembly #45. She married the late Charles Michael Parks on November 2, 1961, to whom she was devoted for nearly 44 years until his death.
Carolyn Jean Parks was first and foremost a grandmother, secondly a mother, and thirdly a businesswoman. Her storied life was as prolific as any Horatio Alger novel. Her humble beginnings in the world of business commenced as a line employee of Grupps grocery store and culminated as co-Founder and co-Owner of C & C Inc. (corporate headquarters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota) with her late husband. The corporation was comprised of grocery/convenience stores, liquor stores, and TicketMaster operations that encompassed the tri-state area of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa and employed over 2000 personnnel. The stores, including Jack & Jill, economart, and Ampride, became household names in the communities which they served, and were synonymous with quality and customer satisfaction, attributes which Carolyn exemplified throughout her life. She and her husband were recognized during their tenure by achieving the distinctions of South Dakota Retailer of the Year, South Dakota Grocery Retailer of the Year, and a national award as Progressive Grocer of The Year.
This period of time also found Carolyn raising two sons. She took great delight in helping Todd realize his dream of becoming a professional golfer and seeing Trent follow in the family business.
In semi-retirement, Carolyn found new passion in the field of children’s education. She was particularly proud of the curriculum that she implemented at Merry Hill School, a private academy in Las Vegas, Nevada and was honored and privileged to be named “Teacher of the Year”.
Carolyn’s residency in Las Vegas became what she considered to be the third act of the trilogy of her life. She would often remark that her life’s purpose had been fulfilled as she was able to raise her grandsons hands-on as opposed to being a grandparent who lived vicariously through their grandchildren from afar. Carolyn’s true gift was selflessness as she immersed herself into her grandsons’ lives and took an active role in the development of other younger men in Las Vegas LAX (lacrosse) programs. The adage ascribed to Carolyn was that the greatest aspect of being a woman was the privilege of raising great men.
The marketing maven at heart that she was also led Carolyn to collaborate with her son, Trent Allen Parks, on casino projects, most notably the creation of the Palms Casino Resort’s Playboy Casino chips, which featured approved imagery from PEI of iconic figures such as Hugh M. Hefner, Marilyn Monroe, and Pamela Anderson.
From the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip to the bright lights of Hollywood, Carolyn was allured by the world of entertainment and she had the pictures to prove it, including walking the red carpet for the world premiere of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. A fabled life indeed.
Loved ones that cleared a path for Carolyn are her father, Charles Fredrick Sharp, and her one and only true love, husband Charles Michael Parks. Loved ones that will miss Carolyn until they meet again are mother Dorothy Eleanor Yanney; sister Darlene Ann Brown; her sons Trent Allen Parks and Todd Edward Parks; daughters-in-law Jill Denise Parks and Michelle Lee Parks; grandsons Chase Chancellor Parks and Cameron Jameson Parks; and granddaughters Alexa Nicole Parks and Mikayla Kapri Parks.
The family would like to thank the MercyOne North Iowa Hospice Care Staff and Reverend Art Zewert for the exceptional care and compassion that was bestowed upon Carolyn and her loved ones during the last hours of her life.
Carolyn’s earthly remains were laid to rest in a private ceremony alongside her beloved husband in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
It was a remarkable life lived by a remarkable woman.
In her honor, a tree will be planted in Israel by family friend Gary Fursetzer.
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