Upbeat, always laughing and smiling, and everybody’s best friend, a cool kind of lady. This was Eleanor Parnell. Born Dorothy Eleanor Smith in Burlingame, KS in 1921. Daughter of Lester and Lulu Smith.
Eleanor married Leonard “Bill” Parnell on 8/23/1941 in Topeka, Kansas.
She was active in her early married life with raising kids, Missionettes group at church, 4-H leader, school Booster Club, Women’s Aglow at church, and kids Sports activities.
Eleanor and Bill were involved in Boyles Dairy and Milk deliveries, and subsequently were active with Boyles Ice Cream Stores in their operations. Also, involved with KiddieLand/Joyland Park in the early years off of 27th and California and the entire family participated in running the “Horse Ride” as part of the Park.
Eleanor loved music, where she was a beautiful self-taught Piano player. She also played other instruments including the Harmonica and Ukulele. She thoroughly enjoyed passing her love of music down to kids, grandkids, and great- grandkids. She volunteered monthly at the Topeka Rescue Mission and played piano there.
Eleanor was very active with her Church, Topeka First Assembly in Sunday school and as Children’s Church leader. She also founded the Quilters group within the Church which made hundreds and hundreds of quilts and annually supported a needy Kids Camp where they donated typically 60 quilts/blankets a year.
In addition to being a house mom when the kids were in school, and the adventures in the Dairy and Joyland businesses, Eleanor went on to work at the Nifty Nut House, Topeka Bible Book store, and then finally retired from Stauffer Publications, in the Cappers Weekly section.
Eleanor loved to Sew and Quilt and make handy “stuff”, such as “scrubbies” and dish rags. She was very creative and handy with new items to make and give away.
Eleanor was vibrant, loved life to the fullest, and her smile was infectious. She nurtured and enriched the many people that she touched. She rode on a Motorcycle for her 80th birthday, went Zip Lining on her 92nd birthday, rode in a Red Corvette on her 96th birthday, and took a town tour in a Cinderella Coach on another key birthday. She and Bill loved to travel also, going to “Roaring River” in Missouri many times with friends and family, Helicopter rides in Oregon, Hot Air Balloon rides in Arkansas and the Parnell picnics in Washington state EVERY year. Travelled lots with daughter Patty and her husband Roland and visited Oregon to see son Chuck multiple times, as well as visiting son Larry in the many states he lived in. One of her favorite memories was when Larry drove her out into the middle of an iced over Lake in Minnesota.
The Parnell’s were ingrained and embraced the Highland Park community. Eleanor lived on SE California Avenue for 74 years, in the house she and Bill built out of airplane parts crates left over from Forbes Air Force Base. She will be missed by many and her unique personality will be hard to duplicate. She is Rocking Heaven now!
Survivors include daughter Patty Bell, husband Roland, Waverly, KS; Chuck Parnell, his wife Rosemary, Eugene, OR; and Larry Parnell, wife Jennifer, Plano, TX; grandchildren, Annette Shaffer, husband Barry, Conway, AR; Ron Belden, Wichita, KS; Michael Parnell, wife Kari, Eugene, OR.; Zachary Parnell, wife Natalie, Wylie, TX.; Becky Parnell, husband Jim Ratcliffe, Arvada, CO.; and great grandchildren, Ashley Shaffer, Conway, AR; William Howell, Eugene, OR, Cooper Parnell, Chelsea, AL; Jilly & Liam Michalofsky; Delaney Parnell, Dallas TX; Connor Parnell, Wylie, TX; Boston, Hattie and Bodie Ratcliffe, Arvada, Co; and sister, Ada Barkes and many nieces, nephews and cousins in the large extended family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Leonard "Bill" Parnell; her parents; siblings, Ted, Anita, Margie, Fern and Ralph; and granddaughter, Amy Parnell.
A memorial ceremony honoring Eleanor will be held at a later date at Topeka Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Topeka Rescue Mission, Inc. PO Box 8350, Topeka, KS, 66608-0350.
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