MARQUETTE, MI – Full of faith, spirituality, generosity and love – she was a true free spirit. Joanne Parks, 67, spread her wings on May 4, 2022, straight into the arms of mother nature and into all the glory of God. For many, this would be considered “Joanne Style.”
Joanne was born on August 9, 1954 in Evanston, Illinois to James and Agnes Versino. Born small, she was destined to live life big. Joanne grew up in Wilmette, Illinois where she attended St. Joseph Elementary School and Regina High School. She was an avid reader, sports fanatic (Go Cubs! Go Tiger! Go Federer!), animal lover with a special love for horses, eagles and wolves, alpine skier (without giving up), the kayaker and the list goes on.
Joanne moved north to Marquette, Michigan to attend Northern Michigan University. It was here that she fell in love with the great outdoors and swore she would never leave. Joanne formed an instant connection with a group of friends, remaining close to them throughout her life. Together, these friends have found adventure and freedom in the outdoors and on the shores of Lake Superior. His love of heights made discovering the trestle train in Negaunee one of his most daring and memorable feats.
Joanne met Larry, her husband of 44 years, in the spring of 1976. Together they were married at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Wilmette, Illinois on Saturday August 6, 1977. They began their life together in Skandia, Michigan, where the neighborhood became an instant family. Although complete opposites in many ways, they balanced each other out and created a beautiful life and a beautiful family. Their four children and grandchildren have lit up their lives. Joanne and Larry had a knack for recounting and recounting with humor all of their priceless memories of camping, boating, a train trip across Canada, fishing trips, and the basics of everyday life. In fact, there were requests to repeat stories just to hear Joanne’s infectious laugh and let her comedic wit and timing give the stories a bit more pizzazz.
Joanne was a mother and grandmother full of wisdom, support, compliments and pure, raw love. Joanne always showed up, rain or shine. It was important to her to encourage those around her, whether it was her own family, the family of her friends or someone she had just met. She had a love for everyone. She has taken care of many families over the years, taking each child as her own and supporting them in their difficulties and their achievements.
Joanne had a burning desire to help those who needed it most. His level of charity was huge, even if his wallet didn’t match it.
Joanne had a love of music spanning all genres and styles. She enjoyed playing guitar and piano and was very happy to be a member of the Teen Life Choir at St. Louis the King Church. She recently performed in her first piano recital, despite her (surprisingly) stage fright. She always asked people to “Jam” with her. You could hear him playing “Music on Third Street” with friends, openly sharing his joy of the music with everyone who passed by. The Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival, a summer highlight for Joanne, was a place where her hippie heart could attend workshops, sing and rock to music, and sleep under the stars. She was committed and had a lot of fun learning and playing, but also passing on this passion to younger generations by volunteering with Music For All Kids.
Most importantly, Joanne lived her life with courage. She always dared to take the first step; put yourself there and the universe welcomes you with open arms. She knew that human interactions, big or small, have the power to open hearts and nurture souls. She was a vessel of God’s love. Joanne’s message to all would be: have faith, live life to the fullest, appreciate God given beauty, love yourself, make people smile and know they are loved.
Our request to all is to carry his legacy with you. On the day of her celebration, please wear bright colors to represent her fun spirit, bring your memories of her to share, and if you play an instrument, be prepared to “Jam” at his celebration of life after service.
Joanne tenderly left behind her husband, Larry Parks; his four children, Jaime (Shane) Kentala, Kelly Parks (Jan Wirth), Shannon Parks and Michael (Kim) Parks; her four cherished grandchildren, Abe and Eva Kentala and Edith and Scarlett Parks; his brother Jim (Sue) Versino and sister Linda Versino; many nephews and nieces, whom she adored, and her amazing friends who loved her unconditionally.
Those by whom she will be welcomed into heaven include her parents, James and Agnes Versino; 2 unborn siblings; his stepfather and stepmother, Ed and Betty Parks, aunts, uncles and special friends.
Friends may call at St. Louis the King Catholic Church, Harvey, Friday, May 13, from 11:00 a.m. until service time at 1:00 p.m. The funeral will be streamed live at https://youtube.com/c/St LouistheKing/playlists (select funeral mass).
A celebration of life, in the style of Joanne, will follow at the family home, 36 Sandwood Drive. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the family for a memorial fund to be established in Joanne’s name for continued support of her charities and the organizations she has been involved with.
Fassbender Swanson Hansen Funeral and Cremation Services serves the family, where condolences can be expressed online at fassbenderswansonhansen.com.