for Mary Mant Parks will be held on April 17, 2010
at 11 a.m., at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, 2150
Bonita Canyon Drive, Newport Beach, California. The building is located
between the 73 freeway and MacArthur Boulevard. For more information
contact David Parks at 714-309-2001 or Richard Parks at 714-963-3557.
Mary was born January 6, 1917 and married Wally Parks in 1935. She
lived through the Great Depression, World War II and the recovery that
followed. Dad was a founding member of the Southern California Timing
Association (SCTA), becoming the president of the group in 1946. He
became the first professional editor of Hot Rod magazine and later
founded the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). They had two sons,
Richard and David, five grandchildren, Scott, David, Michael, Mari and
Tamara, four great-grandchildren, Allison, Jenny, Brock and Trevor, two
daughter-in-laws, Epi and Barbara, three grand-daughter-in-laws,
Michelle, Tara and Stacy, and one grand-son-in-law, Matt. Mary Parks
knew many of the old racers who were instrumental in creating both
American land speed racing and drag racing. She passed away on April 3,
2010 at the age of 93.
Sincerely, David and Richard Parks
Mary Parks passed away today, Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 4:50 pm at her
home in Corona Del Mar.
Her family assembled and was there when she passed on peacefully. She was
93. Mom was born on January 6, 1917 in Pocatello, Idaho. Her parents were
Newton Osborne Mant and Myrtle Howells Mant. She grew up in South San
Gabriel, California during the Great Depression. It wasn't a very pleasant
time for most and her stories show just how desperate people were. Yet they
were better off than some, for they had a home and her mother raised chickens
and sold eggs, a ready source of cash and barter. Homeless men would come by
the house, hungry and dejected, but Myrtle would tell them to go and cut some
wood and she would prepare a meal for them. Mom learned, for she always had a
can of soda or a sandwich for anyone who looked like they could use a bite of
food. She taught us to be generous as well. We had a name for Mom; Mimi.
Her oldest grandchild couldn't pronounce Mom or Mary and so called her Mimi.
She liked that and so it became her nickname. Mom was the second oldest child
in the household. Her eldest sibling, Fanny, died of diphtheria when Mom was
about 3 and so Mimi became the elder statesman in the family. Her sister
Helen came next, followed by Bob, then Virginia and finally the surprise baby,
Carol. If ever there was a family blessed with personality and character
traits, it was this family, but they got along and they loved each other.
Mimi was working as a waitress at a restaurant when a man walked in to order a hamburger. She told the story to us and to her grandchildren many times. A premonition came to her that told her, "This is the man that I am going to marry." She married that man, Wallace Gordon (Wally) Parks in 1935 and they lived in the South Gate/Huntington Park area of Los Angeles. For Mom this was what she always wanted, a loving family, with children and grandchildren. Her first child was Richard and he came along just a few weeks after her birthday in 1944, during World War II. At that moment, most Americans weren't sure that we would win that war or that our soldiers, sailors and airmen would ever make it back home alive. Dad had left to go into the military and was fighting in the South Pacific Theater of Operations at that time. He sent pictorial postcards with cartoons that he drew and a few words of love. After the war Dad built a garage house in Downey, California and Mom finally had her home and her family. She also attended the Downey Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and this was one of the happiest times of her life. Mimi was there in the beginning when Dad was elected as the president of the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), then became editor of Hot Rod magazine and finally founded the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). She was proud of what her husband had accomplished and told everyone about him. Dad would take us out to the dry lakes to see the cars race; it was an all-day trip over dirt roads to get there. He also took us to see the boat races and sometimes to see his brother Kenny Parks run his Jalopy on the oval tracks.
We moved to a new tract home in Pico-Rivera in 1950 and soon thereafter in 1952 her second son was born, David, in March of that year. She named him David after a beloved uncle of hers and also because the name David means "Beloved," in Hebrew. Our parents separated and Mom made the decision, aided and abetted by her sister Helen, to move down to Corona Del Mar, a lovely beach town, in 1956. She loved the beach and the bay and often had vacationed there with her friends, sisters or children in the summer. At that time it was a very isolated little town and far from the Los Angeles County area where we grew up. She bought a pretty little yellow house and in 54 years never changed the color; the brightest yellow I've ever seen. Mom attended church in Laguna Beach and made life-long friends there. She also loved to play bridge with her friends well into the night. She lived on a hill, just a half block from a supermarket and told all her friends, "That will be good exercise for me to walk to the store and back with the groceries," she said. She never did walk up that hill, but she drove down to the beach to watch the ocean constantly.
In 1967 she welcomed into the family her first daughter-in-law, Epi, who would be a constant help in her life. Epi and Richard gave her three sons; Scott, David and Michael Parks. Scott would marry Stacy Rauch and give Mom a great-grandson, Brock Parks. David would marry Michelle Corbin and give Mom two great-granddaughters; Allison and Jennifer Parks. Michael would marry Tara Hafen and give Mom a great-grandson; Trevor Parks. Mom's youngest son would marry Barbara Coddington and they would have two wonderful daughters; Mari and Tamara Parks. Mari wed Matt Bell, another six and a half footer, for it seems the Parks' are tall people. Mom's health began to wane and a caregiver was called in to help her. This lady's name was Delia Asuncion and she became as close to her as if Delia was her own daughter. Mary Parks lived to be 93 and saw Fanny, Helen, Bob and Virginia pass on before her. Bob's widow, Olga Mant, and Mom's sister Carol Mant Eves are still with us. Her life wasn't always easy and there were many trials and tribulations, but her friends and family remember the times when she whistled and sang and called people on the phone to wish them a happy birthday. In fact, so entrenched was this "Western Union Birthday-gram," that we all looked forward to our birthdays so that we could "get the call." The phone was her life; she could use it to chastise or to praise and when she lost her voice, the link to the outside world and her many friends began to close to her as well. At her passing she was surrounded by loved ones and I think the hardships and misfortunes in her life drifted away and she found peace at last in another world with those who have gone before her. Rest in peace, Mom, we love you very much.
Richard and Epi Parks