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  1. #1

    Default Thelma Reece Parks, Remembering Longtime Teacher

    Parks had a heart for kids

    Thelma Parks waves to a student leaving the auditorium at the end of an assembly where Parks was honored in 2017. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

    Something Thelma Parks said during a celebration in her honor two years ago summarized perfectly her approach to teaching and her long tenure on the Oklahoma City School Board.

    “I’ve always loved kids,” said Parks, who died this week at 96. “Kids were first with me, and I did my very best.”

    Parks, who also was a civil rights champion, began teaching after graduating from Langston University in 1945 with a degree in elementary education. She taught at Dunbar Elementary in Oklahoma City and later became one of the first black teachers at the city’s first integrated school, Truman Elementary.

    Parks was the first reading teacher at Douglass High School and the first black counselor at U.S. Grant High School. In 1997, the district opened a new school at 1501 NE 30 and named it Thelma Parks Elementary.

    By that time, Parks had spent 10 years on the school board representing northeast Oklahoma City. She would serve another dozen years, leaving the board in 2009 when she was 86. But her interest in the district continued — she attended some of the community and school board meetings regarding the district’s recent “Pathway to Greatness” reconfiguration.

    This page at times criticized Parks for abstaining on numerous votes while on the board. However, her desire to help the district her love of children were always apparent. A former Oklahoman reporter who covered the school board wrote us to note Parks’ advocacy and passion.

    “She frequently lobbied for equitable educational opportunities long before equity became a buzz word,” the email said. “She was a big personality who was never afraid to speak her mind or to stand alone when she thought it necessary.”

    For her work on civil rights issues, Parks received the Life Time Achievement award from the Oklahoma City chapter of NAACP. Its president, Garland Pruitt, said of Parks’ passing, “We have lost a soldier.”

    “She had no problem speaking out and we don’t have enough of those people left,” Pruitt said.

    The 2017 celebration referenced earlier was to commemorate Thelma Parks Elementary’s 20th anniversary. At that event, Parks said her husband once told her that he thought she loved her students more than she loved him.

    “And I said, ‘You might be right,’” she said, a teacher through and through. Godspeed

    Oklahoman, September 13, 2019

    Temple & Sons Funeral Directors Inc.,

    Thelma Reece Parks

    April 4, 1923 - September 11, 2019
    Education: Langston University

    Special notations: In Lieu of flowers, donations in the Memory of Thelma Reece Parks can be made to Thelma Reece Parks Elementary School. If it is a monetary donation please write the check or money order to Thelma Reece Parks Elementary and on the memo line put in memory of Thelma Reece Parks, If you, would like to make a donation of Physical goods, please contact Principal Michelle Lewis. Thelma Reece Parks Elementary School 1501 N. Prospect Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73111 405-587-4400

    Visitations: 1pm -6pm Tuesday, September 17, 2019

    Cemetery: Memorial Park Cemetery, 7600 Old Taft Rd. Muskogee, Oklahoma 74401

    Services date and time:
    11am Wednesday, September 18, 2019
    Fairview Baptist Church, 1700 N. E. 7th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73117

    Services date and time: 11am Wednesday, September 18, 2019

    Affiliate Services: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc "Ivy Beyond the Wall" **** Top Ladies 6:30 p.m.

    Affiliate Services date and time: 6pm Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2019

  2. #2

    Northeast OKC Re: Thelma Reece Parks, Remembering Longtime Teacher

    It was a beautiful & great day to celebrate the homecoming for Mrs. Thelma Reece Parks.

    Want to commend former Mayor Kirk Humphreys for his outstanding remarks & tribute he gave at Mrs. Parks funeral.

    Mrs. Joyce Henderson, former Dungee alum & Principal of Classen School of Advance Arts gave electrifying remarks & insight on the real Mrs. Parks (aka Miss Universe) as a former mentor for many successful educators.

    It was nice to see Fairview Baptist Church's sanctuary filled to capacity with many family & friends in attendance. Beautiful flowers sprays with a special spray from OKC Public Schools surrounded Mrs. Parks' white galvanized steel casket prior to her final graveside resting place in Muskogee, Oklahoma's Memory Gardens.

    Mrs. Thelma Reece Parks, you were the greatest...

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