by | April 6, 2021 2:58 pm

Last Updated: April 7, 2021 at 11:01 am

Mary Kristin Clair Parks was born the youngest of four on July 28, 1958, to Ruth and Rees Clair of rural Bushton, KS. She went to her heavenly home on April 5, 2021.  

Mary attended Holy Name Catholic School grades 1-3 where she met her lifelong friend, Sheila Orth. Together they transferred to Bushton public schools where they became friends with many, but were especially close with Debbie and Brenda and other members of the Class of 1976.  Mary said she did not remember life before Sheila and often talked about being blessed with so many wonderful friends throughout her life. She said it seemed that friends were added at the various life stages as she needed them. She greatly appreciated and cherished each one. The Class of 1976 remained close to her offering sweet and caring gestures of friendship throughout the years, especially in Mary’s last days.

A gifted musical child, Mary sang and played piano from a very early age, standing at the keyboard reaching up to touch the keys or playing while in someone’s lap until she could sit on the bench by herself. She begged for lessons and her mother provided them. From the 6th grade she studied trumpet with Mr. Thorstenberg, Professor of Trumpet at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS, until she completed a bachelor’s degree in trumpet and piano performance at Bethany. As a 7th grader, Mary won a bugle audition to join the Argonne Rebels, an outstanding award-winning Drum & Bugle Corps based in Great Bend, KS, an affiliation she enjoyed until she was a senior in high school. Throughout her life, Mary was involved in music. She sang and played with and for family, friends and others.  She was known to burst out singing just about any time someone said or did something that reminded her of a song.

Mary worked as a respiratory therapy technician at Southwest Medical Center in Liberal as she earned her bachelor’s in music education degree and later as a custodian and janitor at her church as she completed her teaching credentials. She began her music education career at Ulysses School District 214 in the fall of 1990. Over the next 30 years, she was delighted with little ones as she taught kindergarten music, was elated with progress as she directed the beginning band and served as assistant director of concert band, marching band and pep band. She started students on their instruments and helped them in private sessions before and after school. She enjoyed and loved her job, her students and her fellow teachers. She touched hundreds of lives with her encouragement, skillful teaching, kindness and professionalism. She said that no child could thrive without encouragement and their successes in music could pave the way to great achievements both within and outside music. Her approach was to point out what a student did well and then describe next steps to excellence. She taught by example as she performed along with her students in various school bands and as a wonderful and prolific brass performer, singer and songwriter throughout Southwest and Central Kansas. Her music lives on through many she taught and coached to become the best they could be.

Mary was involved in music ministry at her church, Rose Lane Church of God in Ulysses, KS.  She previously served at Risen Glory and Faith Tabernacle churches in Liberal, KS.

Throughout her life Mary was a loving daughter, mother, sister, friend, teacher and colleague who always had something positive to say about everyone no matter the circumstance. She loved deeply, especially her three children and her grandchildren. Mary regarded everyone and every situation as a part of God’s goodness and trusted in Him implicitly. The family wishes to thank Mary’s friends for their steadfast acts of kindness; reflexologist Marcy Stringham, St. Catherine’s Hospice staff, especially Scarlett, Cindy, Roxanne and Pastor Gerry, for Mary’s care.

Mary is survived by her children, Kristin Galvez and husband Luciano, Matthew Parks and Tyler Parks; grandchildren, Lexton Batie Parks, Luciano Galvez, and Brianna Galvez; mother-in-law, Jackie Molter, all of Liberal, KS; her sisters, Alicia Clair and husband William Massie of Topeka, KS, and Carol Spencer and husband Michael of Warrensburg, MO; brother, Michael Clair and wife Mary Ann of Bushton, KS: nephews, Brian Spencer and wife Elisa of Olathe, KS, John Massie and wife Wendy of Kansas City, MO; nieces, Emily Purnell and husband David of Kansas City, MO, Jennifer Weets and husband Brian of St. Joseph, MO; great-nephews, Eric Spencer, Jacob Massie, William Weets; great-nieces, Charlotte and Samantha Purnell, Payge Massie and Riley Ann Weets; along with many cousins, wonderful friends and colleagues.  Mary married Edward Parks in 1980. They later divorced.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Rees Clair; and her father-in-law, Gene Molter. 

A celebration of life will be Thursday, April 8, 2021, at 11:00 AM at Rose Lane Church of God in Ulysses, Kansas, with Pastor Gerry Dupuis officiating. Graveside service will be Friday, April 9, 2021, at 11:00 AM at Kechi Township Cemetery, 6523 N. Hillside, Park City, Kansas, with Pastor Gerry Dupuis officiating. The service will also be live streamed on Garnand Funeral Home Facebook page. Visitation will be Wednesday April 7, 2021, from 2:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Garnand Funeral Home in Ulysses. Mary has requested that memorial contributions be given to Hospice of St. Catherine or Rose Lane Church of God in care of Garnand Funeral Home, 405 W. Grant Ave., Ulysses, Kansas 67880. Condolences may be posted at www.garnandfuneralhomes.com.

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