In Memoriam: Fred R. Parkinson (June 12, 1929 – Jan. 5, 2023)

February 2023 Posted in Obituary

Fred R. Parkinson

Fred R. Parkinson, long-time Silverton resident, passed away on January 5, 2023 at age 93. He was born on June 12, 1929 in Rexburg, Idaho, the fifth of six children born to Mary Yvette Raymond Parkinson and Fred Doney Parkinson.  

As a child, he helped on his family’s dry farm when not in school, and spent considerable time with his beloved great-grandmother Raymond, whom he often mentioned was alive when Abe Lincoln was president. He didn’t see himself as a life-long farmer, so after graduating from Marshall High School in Rexburg in 1947, he attended Idaho State College in Pocatello, where he earned a degree in Pharmacy. While attending Idaho State, he met the love of his life, Nola Jean Minshew, from Twin Falls, Idaho, whom he married on April 8, 1951. Soon after their marriage, the couple relocated to Oregon, where Fred went to work for a drugstore in Coos Bay. A short time later, the couple moved to Central Point, where he managed drugstores, first in Central Point, and later, in Medford. Fred was active in the community, even being appointed to city council at age 24.  

During their time in Southern Oregon, Fred and Nola welcomed their first two children, daughter 

Pennie, followed by their son Fred. In 1955, the family moved north to the Willamette Valley, where Fred purchased his first pharmacy: Silverton Drug Company at 210 Oak Street. They settled in a rental house on South Water Street just in time to welcome their third child, daughter Shannon. Several years later Fred and Nola purchased a home on North Church Street, where they welcomed their fourth child, daughter Polly. 

In 1960, Fred had the opportunity to join a group of Oregon businessmen on a tour of Eastern Europe, but first, he had to get a passport. As part of the application process, he received a copy of his birth certificate from the State of Idaho and was surprised to discover that his legal name was “Baby Boy Parkinson”. He loved to joke that he named himself, and with his famous grin would tell the rest of the story. At 30 years old, “Baby Boy” hastily filled out the form to legally change his name in time to get the passport for his trip. Intending to use his given name of Fred Raymond (Raymond after his mother’s maiden name like all her children), he accidentally used just the middle initial R instead. Fred R got the passport in time to enjoy a wonderful trip, which included visits to Russia, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Belgium. He was asked to speak at several gatherings of professional organizations around Marion County when he returned, where he shared slides and stories of his adventure. He never bothered to change his name again; he loved a good story, so Fred R he remained. 

Business at Silverton Drug steadily increased over the years, so in 1961 Fred expanded into the adjacent former Rec Center building, doubling the store’s size. Years later, in 1966, a Silverton Drug customer parking lot was added, an exit from which required one of Fred’s famous gold tokens. 

During the summer of 1967, Fred and Nola purchased a historic Silverton home at the corner of West Main and Coolidge Streets. This property became a home-base for their ever-expanding family, where they frequently gathered to honor birthdays, celebrate holidays, or even just enjoy Fred’s favorite pot roast, over the next 55 years. 

In the late 60s and early 70s, Fred continued to expand his pharmacy business, first purchasing Mt. Angel Drug in 1968, then founding Mac Prescription Shop in McMinnville, with partner Gale Johnson, in 1970. Always active in community affairs, and tremendously proud to be living in what he considered the best place on earth to raise a family, Fred began his service to Silverton as a city councilman in 1972, before being elected as mayor by the city council in 1974. He was the last mayor to be elected by the city council, as a change to the City Charter was approved in 1976 allowing for the mayor to be elected by popular vote, which Fred was, in November of that year. While serving as mayor, Fred became a father once again, when he and Nola welcomed their fifth child (surprise) daughter Nicole in 1975. Often mistaken as her grandpa, he would just laugh, and say she was a do-it-yourself grandchild! 

In 1980, Fred was elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives. He served six two-year terms, with Nola as his administrative assistant. Very important to Fred was making sure the needs of his mostly rural constituency weren’t overlooked. The most notable example was when he, as chairman of the Environment and Energy committee, attached a local land use issue, brought forth by a local church, to the bill which would expand Portland’s light rail system west. 

He removed the attachment after a few tense days, but his point was made, and his constituents’ issue was resolved eventually. Fred and Nola left the legislature with treasured friendships and many lasting memories. 

In retirement, Fred was fortunate to spend winters in Palm Springs and Hawaii with Nola, and their spunky companion, his mother-in-law, Marj Minshew. He especially enjoyed their time in Hawaii, where he golfed a few times a week, played cards, and gathered for meals with friends from all over the US and Canada. Golf, as well as the post-round antics in the clubhouse, were a steady part of his routine over the years in Oregon, too. He continued playing weekly with his buddies at Evergreen in Mt. Angel, for as long as he was physically able. 

Despite his many other accomplishments, Fred was most proud of his family. He beamed at holidays and gatherings where his kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids were together. His family will forever think fondly of his down-to-earth and practical advice on such subjects as personal finance: “spend a third, save a third, pay taxes with a third.” Also, how to mow a lawn correctly, how to take care of your tools so they last forever, and how to take care of problems yourself whenever possible. Having grown up during the Great Depression, Fred never threw away anything that might be of use later, and his family often compared him to MacGyver. If a DIY opportunity arose at 301 W. Main, he went down to his well-organized workshop, where he usually had previously salvaged parts and pieces on hand to solve the problem; he was a devoted repurposer long before there was a name for it! He would do any job himself if he could. In his 50s, he was just as likely to be found running a chainsaw at his tree farm or tending to his legendary green lawn, as he was to be behind the pharmacy counter or in his office at the capital. He led by example, and taught us all the value of hard work. Fred valued the importance of education, and once said that his greatest accomplishment was the ability to pay for all of his kids’ college educations. Years later, a little financial help he called the “Parkinson Family Scholarship” gave many a grandkid extra motivation to keep a good GPA, which was its only requirement. Fred was quick to love, easy to laugh, extremely generous, and a man of great integrity who will be missed by many. 

Fred was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers DeVere, Reid, Layle, and Vanness Parkinson, and his sister Donna Parkinson Cherry. Also predeceasing Fred were his grandson Marshall Perry Briscoe, and Nola, his beloved wife of 70 years. 

He is survived by his children Pennie Day (Mike), Fred A. Parkinson, Shannon Montoya (Lem), Polly Briscoe (Dan), and Nicole Winnen (Jarod.) Also surviving Fred are eleven of his grandchildren: Erin Scott (Colin), Kevin Day (Katie), Adam Montoya (Jenny), Stephanie Boni (Pat), Kyle Day (Haley), Jordan Briscoe (Sarah), Carter Briscoe, Nolan Briscoe, Connor Winnen, Sydney Winnen, Casey Winnen, and eighteen great-grandchildren. 

Funeral services for Fred will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Silverton, at 2 o’clock, on Saturday, January 14th, 2023. Assisting the family is Unger Funeral Chapel – Mt. Angel, Oregon. 

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