Karen Lynn Parrish passed away Saturday, October 17, 2015 at home in Overland Park, KS surrounded by her family and friends. Karen leaves to cherish her memories her loving husband, Lynn Parrish; three children and their spouses: Kim (Rob) Brune, Ryan (Sayard) Parrish and Joshua (Stefanie) Parrish; nine grandchildren: Carter and Caden Yancey, Vinsen, Roman, and Gemma Parrish, Bennett and Elyse Parrish, Megan and Mallory Brune; her parents: Elmer and Betty Whitesell of Lincoln, NE; two brothers: Michael Whitesell of Lincoln, NE and Steven (Mickey) Whitesell of Pensacola, FL; and many, many friends, co-workers, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Karen was born September 5th, 1948 in Omaha, NE. She grew up in Norwalk, CA and Lincoln, NE and graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School. She met her husband Lynn at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY. She followed Lynn’s career moves to Richmond, VA in 1972 and to Johnson County, KS in 1980 where they have resided since. Karen earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and her Master’s Degree in Education at Webster University. She was an elementary school teacher in both the Turner and Olathe School Districts and later supervised student teachers from Kansas State University.
Karen was a strong proponent of public education. She actively participated in the Professional Development School (PDS) Partnerships between the University of Kansas and Turner Elementary School and between Kansas State University and the various school districts in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties. She presented the KU PDS Teaching Model at the Third Annual China-US Conference on Education, Phoenix, AZ in April 1999. She also presented the Model at the Learning Exchange Whole Language Conference, the Kaw Valley District Conference and at various local, state and national PDS conferences. She was a member of the Kansas University PDS (KUPDS) Executive Council for five years and represented the University of Kansas at an Eisenhower Grant Conference conducted by the US Department of Education, Washington, DC. She also served as an Adjunct Faculty Member at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS (1997) and collaborated with a team of PDS educators in planning and implementing an undergraduate education course.
Karen was a devoted wife, mother, “Gram”, friend and teacher. She loved to work with children and for a number of years taught swimming lessons for Johnson County Parks and Recreation and for the City of Lenexa Parks and Recreation. She served as an elementary school room mother and was involved with Cub Scouts, Brownies, and Girl Scouts and provided fan support for the many sports activities of her three children. For several years she taught Sunday school and volunteered in the nursery at church.
Her passions included spending time with family, playing with grandkids and watching their sporting events. She loved to travel, especially to any beach, anywhere. She enjoyed hiking in the desert near Scottsdale, AZ and in the Rocky Mountains. She was an avid reader and gardener and was a member of Grace United Methodist Church.
The family will receive friends for a visitation from 5:00 - 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 22nd, at Grace United Methodist Church, 11485 S Ridgeview Rd in Olathe, followed by a Celebration of Life at 7:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Center of Grace, 520 S Harrison, Olathe, KS 66061 (online at graceumc.church).
The family would like to express their gratitude to the staff at the University of Kansas Cancer Center-Westwood Campus.
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