Erlene Cares

Erlene Crowell Cares, 89, of Parsons, passed away at 5:20 p.m., Monday, November 7, 2022 at the home of her daughter.

She was born on September 16, 1933 in St. Louis, MO to Eunice Lee (Rinebarger) and Walter Bernard Crowell. Her father was a minister and she grew up and attended school in Norfolk, VA; Bronx, NY; Anderson IN; and completed her high school and junior college education in Parsons. She married Paul Douglas Cares on November 19, 1949 in Bentonville, AR and resided in Parsons and surrounding areas since the time of their marriage. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November 19, 1999. He preceded her in death on July 15, 2000.

She was employed at the Parsons High School-Parsons Junior College as secretary from 1959-1961, and was clerk for the Parsons City Clerk’s office from 1961-1962. She was an officer and employee of Mid-America Federal Savings and Loan Association, formerly First Federal Savings and Loan Association, from 1962-1987, and a customer service representative at the Parsons Commercial Bank from 1988-1996, retiring in 1996. Following the death of her husband, she went to work at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home as a part-time receptionist where she worked from 2001–2008, and at the Labette Community College as a part-time library aide from 2001-2014.

She was a past president of the National Secretaries Association, past officer of the Parsons Women’s Bowling Association, a past Matron of Progress Chapter No 49, Order of the Eastern Star and had served as a Grand Page in that organization, a past president of Soroptimist International, a supporting member and past board member of the Labette Community College Foundation/Alumni Association, a supporting member of the Labette Health Foundation, a supporting member of the KU Endowment, a member and past president of the Labette Health Auxiliary, which she volunteered over 8,500 hours, a member and past officer of A.A.R.P. Chapter # 2313, a past board member of the Labette County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Parsons Blood Drive Coordinator for the American Red Cross from July 1998 thru August 2015, a past member of the Stella Wells Christmas Tree Auction Committee, a past member of the Parsons Area Concert Association Board, served on the Labette Community College Cardinal Citee Award committee and Van Meter Award committee for several years, a lifetime member of the Labette Community College Alumni Association, a past member of the Association of Kansas Community College Office Professionals, a member of the Parsons Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer with the Labette County Health Department, a volunteer for the annual Parsons Katy Days, a former member of Faith United Methodist Church and current member of First Christian Church. She received the Outstanding Service to the Community Award in 2000 from A.A.R.P., the “Rhodelma Bell” Volunteer of the Year Award for the Labette County Chapter of the American Red Cross in 2001, the 2006 Volunteer of the Year award from the Labette Health Auxiliary, the “Making a Difference for Women” award from Soroptimist International of Parsons in 2007, the 2016 Volunteer of the Year award from the Parsons Chamber of Commerce and the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from Labette Community College.

Erlene was an avid Elvis fan and enjoyed her many visits to Graceland and had an extensive Elvis collection. She enjoyed sports, especially the Kansas City Chiefs, the Kansas Jayhawks, the Nascar races, Stars on Ice, and Danielle Steel’s novels and movies. She liked to travel and in the past spent a good deal of time in Branson and Silver Dollar City. A special hobby was to send cards to family, friends and neighbors on special occasions. She also enjoyed decorating for all occasions and remembering and treating co-workers and friends on these occasions.

Survivors include a son, Morris (Moe) W. Cares and his wife, Karen of Grove, Oklahoma; a daughter, Teresa A. Gardenhire and her husband, Orville of Altamont; three grandchildren, Sky W. Cares and his wife, Virginia of Monticello, KY, Douglas S. Gardenhire and his wife, Robin of Kennisaw, GA and Rachelle (Chelle) D. Sharpel and her husband, Mike of Pleasanton, KS; three great-grandchildren, Wesley W. Cares, Alison E. Gardenhire and Ella A. Gardenhire.

In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her father, Rev. Walter B. Crowell and stepmother, Helen T. Crowell, her mother Eunice L. Goins and stepfather, Joseph C. Goins, a brother, Arlo B. Crowell, and a stillborn son.

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, November 10, 2022 at the Carson-Wall Funeral Home in Parsons. The family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m., until service time Thursday. Burial will be in Memorial Lawn Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Labette Community College Foundation, Labette Health Foundation or Labette County Chapter of the American Red Cross and may be left at or mailed to the funeral home, P.O. Box 942, Parsons, KS 67357. Online condolences may be left at www.wallfuneralservices.com.

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