Elizabeth Suzanna (Burgener) Parke, 99, died Saturday, September 4, 2021 at Via Christi Village in Pittsburg, Kansas. She was born in Olney, Illinois on July 13, 1922, to Emmanuel John Burgener and Sophia Mabel (Sterchi) Burgener. After graduation from Olney High School, she attended Eastern Illinois State in Charleston, Illinois, where she met her husband, Wayne Bolin Parke. She completed her degree in Elementary Education in 1944, having also received a great deal of secondary training in music, and was always recognized for her lovely singing voice. She remained active in education throughout her life, and taught all of her children to read before they started school.
Wayne served in the Pacific Theater in WWII, and after he returned to the States, Elizabeth traveled by train to meet him on the west coast. They were married on July 9, 1945 in Sacramento, California, where they started their life together in the front half of a shared Quonset hut on the naval base. After he was discharged, they moved to Wayne’s home town, Humboldt, Illinois, where he was teaching and coaching at the local high school. While there, they had their first two children, David Lynn in 1946, and Linda Allison in 1948. Their daughter April Joan was born in 1952 at Highland, Illinois, where he was teaching electronics at the Scott Air Force Base. When he was recruited to work for IBM, the family moved briefly to Endicott, New York for training, and then settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where their son Stephen Michael was born in 1953. Wayne felt called to the ministry and was ordained by the Disciples of Christ. While he was completing his seminary degree, the family served churches simultaneously in Millersburg, Central, Dixie, Ham’s Prairie, and New Bloomfield, Missouri. Following his ordination in 1961, they then served churches in Bethany, Missouri, where their daughter Kathryn Jean was born in 1963; Port Arthur, Texas; Bristol, Virginia; and Jonesboro, Arkansas.
In addition to fulfilling the duties expected of a pastor’s wife, Elizabeth also sang in the choirs and oftentimes served as the choir director. While in Jonesboro, Wayne retired from the ministry and earned his Master’s in Education; Elizabeth, an accomplished seamstress, taught sewing classes at the Singer store and substituted in local schools. Wayne, Elizabeth, and their youngest daughter finally settled in Newtonia, Missouri, where they were members of the First Christian Church in Neosho. Elizabeth was a teacher at the First Christian Church Day Care Center and Pre-School for more than ten years. Wayne died in 1985, and Elizabeth later moved to Pittsburg, Kansas in 1997 to be near Kathryn. She thrived in the atmosphere of a university town, where she audited philosophy courses at PSU and attended nearly every concert at the Department of Music. She joined the First United Methodist Church, where she was active in the Crusader’s Class and the Ruth Circle. She was a member of the Treble Clef Club, and in 1988, she traveled to England with the church’s Chancel Choir. She was a voracious reader, and particularly loved crossword puzzles and word games, traveling, gardening, music, any and all desserts, and watching the birds and squirrels that knew her house was the best restaurant in town. In 2019, she moved to Via Christi Village, where Kathryn continued to feed the birds outside her window.
In addition to her parents and her husband, she was preceded in death by her sister, Kathryn (Burgener) Worley; her daughter, April Parke, in 1989; and her son, David Parke, in 2003. She is survived by her daughter, Linda (Les) Alderson of Tucson, Arizona; her son, Steve (Rebecca) Parke of Ft. Smith, Arkansas; her daughter, Kathryn Parke (Susan Marchant) of Pittsburg, Kansas; one granddaughter, Laura Elizabeth (Ben) Brantmeier; two great-granddaughters, Parker Grace and Elizabeth Claire Brantmeier; four nieces and nephews; and many cherished friends, whom she loved devotedly.
The family wishes to express their deep gratitude to Via Christi Village, and particularly to Farrah Askew and to the C Court staff, who provided such superb care.
A memorial service for Elizabeth is set for 10:00 a.m., Saturday, September 11, 2021, at the First United Methodist Church, Pittsburg, with visitation to follow in the Fellowship Hall. The family respectfully requests that those in attendance wear masks. The service will be live streamed through Mrs. Parke’s obituary at brennermortuary.com. The family suggests expressions of sympathy be in the form of memorials to the First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir Fund and/or Habitat for Humanity of Crawford County. Memorials may be left at or sent to Brenner Mortuary, 114 E. 4th St., Pittsburg, KS 66762. Friends may also leave condolences online at www.brennermortuary.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary, Pittsburg, KS.
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