Obituary: Anita Parks

Anita Parks, age 82, was born April 22, 1940, in Halstead, Kansas, the third of six children of Anthon and Gladys (Walters) Sundbye.

Anita Parks, age 82, was born April 22, 1940, in Halstead, Kansas, the third of six children of Anthon and Gladys (Walters) Sundbye. She died on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. Anita graduated from Halstead High School in 1958, then attended Southwestern College (KS) for two years. She completed her BA in education at Wichita State University in 1963, and her MA in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University in 1977.

She was married to John W. “Bill” Todd from 1959, until they divorced in 1977. They had one son, Corbin. In 1980, she married Harry Parks. With her son, Corbin Todd, and Harry’s two sons, Matthew and Benjamin Parks, they became a blended family of five.

Anita began her career in education as a teacher at Mueller Elementary in Wichita from 1963-1965. In 1965, she and Bill joined the Peace Corps and served two years in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and the following year as Peace Corps recruiters in the Midwest region, headquartered in Chicago.

From 1971-1978 she was with the Dexter (MI) Community Schools, first as an elementary teacher, then as reading consultant and part-time teacher of academically talented. She was gifted education consultant for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (Ann Arbor, MI) for 10 years (1978-1988) and also parttime instructor for Eastern Michigan University. From 1988 until her retirement in 1994, she was principal of Eberwhite Elementary, Ann Arbor.

After retiring, Anita and Harry moved to central Florida (St. Cloud, then Orlando) where they remained for 20 years before returning to Michigan. Life-long Methodists, both were active in the St. Cloud United Methodist Church, holding leadership positions, organizing the church library, and making liturgical banners for the sanctuary.

They enjoyed taking many trips, both at home and abroad, often with family and friends, including special trips with each grandchild for their tenth birthday. Anita completed master gardener training and volunteered for several years at the plant clinic at the Osceola County (FL) extension office. She was also a frequent volunteer at the St. Cloud Food Pantry.

She held several leadership positions in the St. Cloud Woman’s Club and was instrumental in a joint project by the Woman’s Club and the City of St. Cloud to establish the St. Cloud Heritage Museum. The museum, opened in 2003, was and continues to be operated by Woman’s Club volunteers. Anita served as its volunteer curator from 2003-2005.

She traced her family history back several generations which led to visiting ancestral sites in Norway and Ireland. She was a member of the Osceola County genealogy club and published its award-winning newsletter. Later, birding became another new and satisfying hobby she and Harry enjoyed, frequently taking birding trips with friends.

After 20 years in Florida, Anita and Harry moved back to Michigan in 2015, first to Ypsilanti, then in 2019, to the Chelsea Retirement Community. She often said how blessed they were to have had so many fulfilling retirement years.

She was preceded in death by her parents; two sisters, Joy Sundbye and Carolyn Ropp; and one brother, Larry Sundbye. Survivors include her husband, Harry; son, Corbin Todd and wife Sandra of Ypsilanti, MI; two stepsons, Matthew Parks and wife Kristine of Fenton, MI, and Benjamin Parks and wife Holly of Las Vegas, NV; a sister, Marilee Wear of Salt Lake City, UT; a brother, Keith Sundbye of Halstead, Kansas; five grandchildren: Lainey Todd, Michael (Sarah) Parks, Kyle Parks, Hailey (Trent) Madaski, Caitlin Parks; and two great-grandchildren, Daisy Parks and Charlotte Madaski.

Cremation has taken place. A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Anita and Harry have requested that their ashes be scattered on Lake Huron near where they spent many pleasurable weekends and summer vacations at their condo in Oscoda. Memorial contributions may be made to United Methodist Retirement Communities Foundation (UMRC), 805 West Middle Street, Chelsea, MI 48118. Arrangements by Cole Funeral Chapel in Chelsea.

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