Ann Shirley Parks Hembree died on March 9, 2022 in Scottsdale Arizona from causes incident to age. She died peacefully and surrounded by her children. She was 91 years old. Shirley was born in Riverton, WY January 11, 1931. She is the daughter of the late Elwin Parks and Glenn Fisher Parks of Arapahoe, WY. She attended rural one room elementary schools, Cleveland and Mill Creek, and graduated from Lander High School.
Shirley’s early life was on a rural ranch near Arapaho, Wyoming. Her grandfather, John William Parks, father, Elwin Price Parks, and uncle, William Parks came to Wyoming from Missouri to homestead in 1910. Her father and grandfather each bought forty-acre parcels of land. They went into the Wind River Mountains with horses to obtain large logs to build their homes. The original ranch home was built around 1912. All three worked together to build the first two room home. More rooms were added later. They did not have electricity until Shirley was 14. Ice for the refrigerator came from the river and was stored in coal slack. Well water was hand pumped into a down sloped pipe into the house that filled a big barrel and the family would use a bucket to fill a pitcher full of water to drink. Shirley has memories of riding a horse alone as early as age four to the neighbor's house to play and shared many stories of their experiences and friendship with their Arapahoe Native American neighbors.
Education was a priority in her family. Shirley left the ranch to attend Colorado Women’s College and the University of Denver where she received a bachelor’s degree in Education. Shirley's mother and aunts had been school teachers, so this was encouraged and a natural choice.
Shirley's younger brother, Howard Parks, shared the responsibility of ranch life raising cattle, sheep, hogs, and ensuring proper irrigation. He too was encouraged to further his education. He graduated from the University of Wyoming, served in the US Air Force, and retired as a 747 Flight Captain.
After graduating from the University of Denver, Shirley came to Rawlins for her first teaching job. It was in Rawlins that she met her future husband, Howard Hembree, who she described as a "true southern gentleman." Howard, a native of Jasper, Alabama, came to Rawlins after serving in the Navy during WWII. Howard participated in the 1944 invasion of Iwo Jima in the Pacific. He spent 10 months building an air strip and assisted in guarding the atomic bomb. After WWII, Howard came to work in the family’s business, Karl’s Clothes Shop and The Bootery, at the corner of 5th and Cedar.
Howard and Shirley were married on August 15, 1954 at the First Baptist church in Riverton, WY. It was policy at the time that teachers could not be married, so Shirley stopped teaching for a few years until this policy was changed. Shirley taught nearly 40 years, of which 33 years were in Rawlins / Carbon County School District #1. The majority of her years, she taught at Pershing Elementary where she is well remembered by her former students. She also taught and substituted in Washington state and after retirement was a reading tutor in the Scottsdale Arizona Public Schools.
Teaching and learning was always a passion for Shirley. Up until the week before her death, she was reading library books and taking notes on them.
Shirley was initiated into Delta Kappa Gamma MU Chapter in 1966. She held positions of Corresponding Secretary 1978-1980, Professional Affairs Committee, First Vice-President 3 terms, MU Chapter President 1982-1984. She was also active in AAUW, PTA, the International Reading Association, Classroom Teacher Association, and Grievance and Gifted Committees. Shirley is a lifetime member of the WEA & NEA. Community activities included 4HLeader and Cub Scout Leader.
In addition to teaching, Shirley centered her life around her two children, Tom and Jayne. She had complete devotion to helping her children develop their talents. She and Howard were a team in supporting and encouraging their children in all their endeavors. The value of hard work was instilled. Family vacations and visits to relatives were highlights.
Shirley’s hobbies include a lifelong interest in history and genealogy. She was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where she once again, taught many young people.
After retirement Howard and Shirley spent winters in Arizona and summers in Wyoming until 2009 when they moved to Arizona full time.
Shirley is preceded in death by her parents and husband Howard, of 64 years. She is survived by son, Tom and his wife Elizabeth, Laramie WY; daughter, Jayne Oldroyd, and her husband, Doug, Mesa AZ; Four grandchildren Lance (Chelsea), Trent (Millie), Lauren (Preston) and David; three great grandchildren Elise Marie, Olivia Ann and Lucy Mae and brother, Howard Parks and his wife, Joen of Olympia, WA. She is also survived by nephews Bill Stookey, Randy Parks, and Scott Parks and nieces Kress Hembree, Becky Hembree, Sue Ghelbach and Shannon Parks.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, March 26 at 10:00 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 509 E. Kendrick in Rawlins, Wyoming. Graveside services will follow at the City of Rawlins Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Rawlins National Bank to the Benefit of Educational Needs of Rawlins Children Fund – Shirley Hembree. You may go to any RNB branch or contact Tandi Murphy, 307.324.1100, email@example.com