Mary Jane Parsons was born September 1, 1931 at the home of her parents, Thomas F. and Esther (Gunnarson) Saunders on College St. in Peterson, IA, where she spent the first 21 years of her life. Upon graduating from Peterson High School in 1949, she enrolled at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls for one year, transferring to Buena Vista College, where she received a two-year diploma. Her first teaching position was at Greenville/Rossie school, teaching 3rd and 4th grades. On January 24, 1953 she was united in marriage to Elmer Parsons of Gillett Grove, IA, in Jackson, MN. They resided on the Parsons’ farm south of Gillett Grove, where they raised their seven children. Mary Jane resumed her teaching in 1954-56 at the Gillett Grove School, and later substituted in the classroom, kitchen, or office, wherever she was needed.
She served on the Clay County 4-H Committee in the 70’s and supported the Clay County 4-H foundation. She was a member of the Grace Congregational Church of Greenville, serving as a deaconess, and on the board of trustees. She belonged to the Friends of the Spencer Library, Parker Historical Society, the Iowa Great Lakes Genealogy Society, where it was her passion to help others find their Clay County “Roots”. She kept busy in her flower gardens, quilting, or working cross-word puzzles. She enjoyed life on the farm, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all the trials life brought and trusted in the Lord to help her through those times. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Elmer, her brother, Bruce Saunders, her son, Dennis Parsons, her daughter, Chris Beck, and a brother-in-law, Jim Wright.
She is survived by 5 of her 7 children: Tamra Riecke (Gary) of Bigfork, MT, Janeen Madson (Bill) of Webb, Janel Maurer (Dave) of Spencer, Joel Parsons (Tonna) of Webb and Darryl Parsons of Spencer; 11 grandchildren; one step-granddaughter; 22 great-grandchildren; 5 step-great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; a son-in-law, Larry Beck of Spencer; one sister, Nancy Wright; one sister-in-law, Jean Saunders; one Swedish foreign exchange student (1985-1986), Peter Ulrik Karlsson (Cissi); nieces; nephews; other relatives and many friends.In lieu of flowers a memorial fund has been established by the family.
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