The Woodward News


July 2, 2013

Dessie Roberta (Parks) Stephenson

Woodward, Okla. — Dessie Roberta (Parks) Stephenson, the 8th child of Julius and Belva (Findley) Parks, was born May 22, 1919, at the family home in Commanche County, southeast of Coldwater, Kansas.  Her family came from sturdy pioneer stock; her grandfather having drove a mess wagon for George Custer’s survey crew when surveying the western United States prior to settlement.  Her parents moved from St. John, Kansas looking for farmland and a better way of life.  Sisters Dorothy, twins Verda and Vella, brothers Buck, Dick, Jack and Pete welcomed sister Dessie.  Two more brothers, Martin and Rex came several years later.  Dessie grew up on the family farm doing all the chores farm kids do.  She attended school at “TinTop” then High School in Coldwater.  Her parents, not having the opportunity for much schooling, encouraged all their children to pursue their educational endeavors.  She began college at NW at Alva, Oklahoma, to become a lab technician.  Dessie loved flying and was one of two women accepted into the Women’s Ferrying Service in 1939.   In 1939, Dessie went home with a college friend, Ruth DeMoss, from Webb, Oklahoma.  Not wanting to miss a date with her boyfriend, she tried to make a blind date with a neighbor boy for Dessie. After having seen her at church on Sunday, they all went to the Epperly’s for lunch.  They were, of course, chaperoned by Howard’s younger sister and husband, Doris & Woodrow Gore. During the 1940’s Howard began making many trips to Alva while the sounds of war rumbled in Europe.  Howard suffered many pranks from all Dessie’s brothers, but he still kept coming back.  He was drafted January of 1941.   He had “popped the question” and she said “yes”.  So with the help of his brother-in-law, Albert Meyer, they hurridly built a home.  After Pearl Harbor was attacked, fearing he would be recalled, they changed their wedding date to December 20, 1941.  With wedding gifts, like heifers, laying hens, and a cellar full of fruits and vegetables, they were ready for life on the farm.  Brother Buck had taught her how to make gravy.  They established their home northeast of Webb, where they raised cattle, wheat, broomcorn, cotton, and 5 children: Elin Rose, Lance Parke, Nelda Marie, Kirk Fred, and Belva Ann.  Dessie was a stay-at-home mom, cooking 3 meals a day, washing dishes and clothes by hand; milking cows twice a day, also by hand.  Later a milking machine was added to allow more time in the fields! haha  Dessie was converted as a young college girl. She was musically inclined, so she put her talents to good use at her new church nestled in the blackjacks.  She instilled this love of music in her children. We had a piano which she and all her girls then learned to play.  All the kids sing and play some instrument.  She never missed the “Lawrence Welk Show” on Saturday nights.  Dessie was not one to waste time.  If she ever sat down she was either milking, reading, embroidering or crocheting rugs for the floors.  Dessie and Howard were good stewards of the land, very concerned about soil erosion, and were one of the first to build terraces and pond dams.  Having married a farmer/rancher, Dessie got to do the outdoor things that meant so much to her: riding horses and working with cattle.  However, cotton was never her “cup of tea”!  This love of the land and way of life was handed from their parents that also thought this was a great way to live and raise a family.  Bible study was a part of their daily lives. Their hearts and home were open to missionaries and visiting preachers.  One of the highlights of their lives was a trip to the Holy Land in 1976 to see where their Savior had walked.  Money was tight in their early married lives, but in later years, after practicing good stewardship (and a little oil well), they took several trips, mostly farm tours.  They were generous, and helped their children and especially their grandchildren, sending most of them to college.  Did I mention Dessie and Howard accepted their sons- and daughters-in law as their own?  And their love was returned in large measure.  Children flocked to Dessie like ducks to water. There was generally one or two in tow at all times. For her 50th school reunion, when asked to write a capsule of her life, she wrote “Life has not been boring. It has been a full life, and I’ve been much happier than I deserved.  Through the years I have learned to believe and trust in my Lord and Savior.  I am glad to say like Joshua of old, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’.  In recalling the events of the last 50 years, I must say the good times far outnumbered the lousy times”.  In their later years you never saw them but what they weren’t together, which usually meant he needed gates opened.

But as we came to realize, Howard was having several health issues.  Dessie cared for him faithfully “til death did they part” in Feburary 1997.   Dessie has celebrated her birthdays since 1980 amongst family, friends and neighbors at the Webb Reunion, which her kids started for her 80th birthday.   Dessie was preceded in death by her parents, 3 sisters, 6 brothers. Howard preceded her in 1997, followed by grdson-in-law Charlie Whitmarsh, gt-grdson, Jesse Rae Mabra and grddau Lana Whitmarsh Ramsey.  Dessie is survived by daughter Elin Bryant & hb Don, son Lance & wf Jeannie, dau Nelda Crispin & hb Chris, son Kirk & wf Louise, dau Belva Mabra & hb Allen. 9 grdchildren as well as the rest of the community came to call them Granny and Papa. Cara & hb Greg, Stephen, Neal & wf Monica, Lana’s hb Demspey, Fred & wf Amy, Kim & hb Eric, Jason & wf Sarah, Clayton & wf Amanda and Ben. 18 g-gchildren Tessa, Brandon, Desiree, Brant, Katie, Lyle, Miah, Jack, Luke, Hope, Emily, Silas, Nolan, Autumn, Marshall, Triniti and Gracie. 3 gt gt-grdchildren Ryan, Cash and Sophia, as well as many nieces, nephews & friends who are expecting to join her, the rest of the Saints and our Savior soon.

Funeral services were held on Saturday June 29, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at te Webb Baptist Church, Webb, Oklahoma with interment following in Webb Cemetery, Webb, Oklahoma and a Homecoming Celebration held at Free Will Baptist Church, Woodward, Oklahoma at 2:00 p.m. Condolences may be made to the family and Memorial Tribute viewed at

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