Ann Roberts Parsons

Ann Roberts Parsons

Ann Roberts Parsons passed away in her sleep the morning of July 5, 2017, with her daughter Marg at her bedside.
She leaves a void – aching, yet filled with precious memories – in the hearts of the many who knew and loved her.
Ann was born Aug. 29, 1925, to Keith Roberts and Helen Munsell Roberts in Evanston, Ill. She was their first daughter, joining brothers David and Bill. The family often spent summers at their lakeside property, “Lac-Qui-Parle,” on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where Ann began her love of the outdoors. There was camping, swimming and sailing in the summers and snowshoeing and skiing in the winters.
Her mother was a talented illustrator, who passed down to Ann her love of art and ability to work in ink and water colors. Her father, a mining engineer, was also an investor; following the market crash of 1929 the family moved to a smaller home in Menominee, Mich., but continued their summers on the lake shore.
Ann graduated from Menominee High School in 1943 and entered the American Academy of Arts in Chicago. Before long, her brothers were in the service and her father was working for the government in Alaska. At the war’s end Keith and Helen moved to Juneau, while Ann was employed as a catalog illustrator for a Toronto department store. In 1947 she went to Juneau to see her parents, and there she met Frank Parsons. After a six-week courtship, they became engaged, and in June were married at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening and his wife Dorothy were friends of both families, and Ann dressed at the Governor’s Mansion for the wedding, then was driven to the church by Governor and Mrs. Gruening.
Frank and Ann were together until his death 67 years later.
Ann thrived in her new life as an Alaskan. She and Frank were members of the Juneau Ski Club and avid hikers. For their first anniversary, she gave him a gift of flying lessons, then took lessons herself. She soloed in a float plane, but could not obtain a license because a childhood accident had left her with poor vision in one eye. Frank went on to get his license, and for decades the two spent many hours together in the air, traveling, camping, and picnicking anywhere in the northern Panhandle a small plane could be landed.
By the time children arrived (Margaret Ann in 1951 and John Keith in 1954), Ann had already begun her life-long devotion to the Episcopal Church, serving as treasurer to Holy Trinity. She later served as church secretary and was active in the choir, the altar guild, and fundraising activities. But her true fulfillment as a churchwoman began with a four-year Education for Ministry course that culminated in her ordination as a deacon in 1984. She carried out her duties with joy and dedication, first at Holy Trinity and later at St. Brendan’s.
Early in her marriage, Ann worked as a bank teller for B.M. Behrend’s Bank and occasionally as a bookkeeper for Steven’s of Juneau. Later on, she worked for many years in Juneau’s well-remembered Baranof Book Shop, where all the staff were dear friends.
Ann’s long-time hobby of photography gradually became a vocation. When the Parsons had a new house built along Glacier highway in 1962, it had a dedicated darkroom. No more setting up the enlarger and developing trays in a tiny bathroom! She photographed many weddings and elementary school classes, and especially enjoyed doing portraits of children. She was adept at capturing an aerial view past the wing strut of a Cessna.
In a foray into amateur theatrics she performed for a few seasons as Mrs. Goldstein in the tourist-season staple “Hootchinoo ‘n’ Hotcakes,” entertaining visitors and locals at the old A.J. Mine site. As tourism became more important to Juneau, Ann’s outgoing personality made it natural for her to welcome visitors. In season, she routinely sported a large button reading, “Ask Me. I Live Here.”
Ann became a recreational runner in late middle age, completing the Klondike Run at least five times by age 69 and representing Alaska in the 1995 Senior Olympics in San Antonio. She hiked the Chilkoot Trail twice with her family, and made countless ascents of Mt. Juneau and Mt. Roberts, often in the company of her friend and sister-in-law Isabel (Parsons) McLean.
Following Frank’s retirements (first from the U.S. Coast Guard and later from bush flying) the couple moved to Sitka where daughter Marg was by then living. There Ann continued her work as “the Creakin’ Deacon” until the accumulation of years gradually kept her from getting out and about. Frank preceded her in death in 2014; soon Ann moved into the Sitka Pioneers Home in 2015.
Those who knew her will always remember Ann’s vibrant and fun-loving nature and her irrepressible wit. Her long-lasting friendships, most especially with Mildred Boesser and Bobbie Rice, were everything to her.
She is survived by daughter Marg Parsons of Sitka; son John (Beth) Parsons of Eugene, Ore.; granddaughters Lizzie (Gaston) Figueroa of Portland, Ore., and Zoë Parsons of Seattle, Wash.; and great-granddaughters Sylvia and Lucy Figueroa of Portland.
Nieces Heather (Mike) Sweeney of Camas, Wash., Sandi McLean of Salinas, Kansas, Holly Roberts of Highlands, N.C., and Mimi (Rick) Comerford of Oak Part, Ill.; and nephews Neil McLean of Christmas Valley, Ore., Keith (Bea) Roberts of Ruidoso, N.M., Bill (Linda) Roberts of San Angelo, Texas, James Roberts of San Antonio, Texas, Bruce (Rachel) Roberts of Leesburg, Va., and Alan (Beth) Roberts of West Palm Beach, Fla., also survive.
Services will be held 1 p.m. Friday, July 21, at St. Peter’s-by-the-Sea. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ann’s name to the Sitka hospice program, Brave Heart Volunteers, would be welcomed. The address is: Brave Heart Works, P.O. Box 6336 Sitka AK 99835, or via PayPal at braveheartvolunteers.org on the “donations’ tab.

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