The last Parsons High School graduating class was 1978, so the youngest to have graduated from PHS are now 54 years old. PHS graduates include some very remarkable people, and each year the PHS Alumni Association recognizes some of them.
Getting to go to high school was a dream come true for Velma Shahan Roy. Often, the “country” kids’ education ended at eighth grade in the little country schools since it was miles to the nearest bus stop. Velma, however, moved to Parsons to stay with her sister, Peg Filler, so that she could attend high school. Velma was very grateful to be able to take part in sports and clubs, and she excelled in her studies, becoming the first in her large family to graduate from high school. Velma went on to attend college and become a registered nurse.
Being married to an Air Force man gave her the opportunity to work several places, and to travel to bases in the United States as well as outside the country. (Her son was born in French Morocco.) It was said of Velma that she has a true “nurse” personality—kind and gentle, but strong enough to be assertive. She worked mostly in Obstetrics and Delivery and assisted in delivering over 700 babies!
This very talented woman has a lovely voice which she has always shared, particularly in her church where she also taught Bible classes. One of her talents is creating beautiful embroidery, especially pillow cases. Velma gives pillow cases to brighten the days for people who have lost loved ones or had a fire in their homes or sometimes “just because.” So many people appreciate and admire Velma for her giving nature—there are many testimonies out there about wonderful letters and notes she has written which, in this day of email and electronic communication, are a rare joy to receive. Velma Roy is an exceptional woman, and Parsons High School is happy to honor her.
Jeff Felton was active in the 4-H club, was in Boy Scouts, Science Club and the National Honor Society at Parsons High School. He is a graduate of MIT and has a PHD from Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed a post doctoral fellowship at Harvard and currently teaches microbiology to medical students at Western University of Health Sciences in California. He is founding and current member of the editorial board for Bio Techniques, the Journal of Laboratory Technology for Bioresearch. Jeff has published several articles pertaining to microbiology.
The one characteristic common to all PHS Hall-of-Fame people is their desire to help others; their propensity for volunteering. Jeff Felton is no exception. As a Viet Nam veteran, he is very active in Veterans’ groups, and in fact, his buddies were missing his help with the Memorial Day Parade, since he was at the PHS Alumni Dinner for his 50th class reunion! Jeff had a penchant for astronomy and has several telescopes as well as a collection of cameras. He also collects coins.
All of his fellow PHS alumnae were very happy to know that Jeff has a great fondness for genealogy, specifically local (Tucker County) history. He spent a great deal of his time during Memorial Day Weekend researching and traveling to various historic and primitive grave sites.
Jeanette Bishoff left after graduation to work in the D.C. area, as did many graduates in the 50’s, but she returned after a short time, spending most of her lifetime in Parsons. The people who nominated Jeanette stated she “is well-liked by everyone, touching the lives of so many people in our communities and is a very special person.”
She excelled as a wife and mother while working outside the home much of the time. In 1976, she and her husband became business owners, operating a full-service gas station and garage for nearly 20 years. Her reputation as a cook is city-wide, and along with the bereavement dinners and other meals, Jeanette’s pepperoni rolls are said to be “so addictive, they keep the kids off crack!” Not only does her church have a very well-attended Fifth Quarter get–together after each football game, but they package up bags of her pepperoni rolls and other goodies to give to the members of the opposing team! She truly has the souls of young people at heart.
As a second-generation member of the Hendricks Ruritan Club for over 20 years. Jeanette has given countless hours to raise money and help the community in many ways. Numerous Tucker County graduates have benefited from Ruritan college scholarships as a result of efforts by Jeanette and her club. She has held every office in the club, and heads up the planting and care of the beautiful summer flower garden around the flag pole at Camp Kidd Park. Jeanette has been instrumental in the fund-raising and building of the Veteran’s Wall and has stayed involved by decorating and helping with special events.
Margaret “Skeeter” Beck Slater was another of the Parsons High School graduates recruited by the Federal Government in the 1950’s. While at PHS, she was in the band, a majorette, a member of the student council, the Latin club and 40H and later a princess in the Mountain State Forest Festival. Upon graduation, she went to Washington to work and it was there she met her husband. The couple traveled to Monument Valley where a Seventh-Day Adventist Mission had been established among the Navajos. They helped build Monument Valley Hospital which developed from a clinic begun by Adventist Missionaries in 1950. Skeeter worked with Navajo women who learned a great deal from her. The Navajo Nation encompasses millions of acres in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico and, at that time, there was a great deal of need. These two missionaries helped provide enormous physical and spiritual support by building and working with the Navajos while still showing respect for their customs and traditions.
Skeeter and her family spent many years in California, always providing service to their church and dedicating their lives to the service of others. Believing “….when you have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me,” Skeeter offered her own home as a refuge to students away from home and those needing a place to stay while they were in the area seeking medical treatment. The
Slaters were also instrumental in establishing the Seventh Day Adventist Church here, in that Wendell (Skeeter’s husband) built the Adventist Church in Parsons.
Marlene Roach Goodrum, also here to celebrate her 50th class reunion, was Valedictorian of the class of 1964; president of the National Honor Society, editor of the yearbook; chaplain of Tri-Hi-Y; officer in Future Teachers of America; president of Student Council; president of Future Journalists of America; Homecoming attendant as a freshman and maid of honor her senior year; represented PHS at Girls State and yearbook camp. Doesn’t sound like what one often hears about the typical preacher’s kid!
After high school, Marlene continued to excel in college, earning a BA in Math Education, a BA in Art Education and a Masters in Math education as well as memberships in Honor Societies and Who’s Who. She served with her husband as missionaries in Kenya, then traveled widely, speaking at mission conferences. Besides being an active “pastor’s wife,” Marlene taught in public, private and Christian schools, directed and taught Bible Schools, Church Camps and Sunday School, tutored math and taught as a classroom instructor on the college level, later developing Power-Point-assisted presentations for use at numerous regional math conferences.
Marlene served with her publisher/husband, editing two Christian magazines for fifteen years and headed up preparation and publication of fifteen different yearbooks, winning awards for many. The presenter compared Marlene to the Proverbs 31 woman, saying, “……There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but…………. A woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised…..Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”
The thing for which Sarah Mullenax Minear will be most remembered in Tucker County is the Tucker Community Foundation. After the 1985 flood, folks in the county had to accept help from many areas of charity. Many felt that, if the county began to accumulate funds some way, its citizens could not only “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” so to speak, in the event of another disaster, but the money could be a perpetual source of help. Sarah Minear took that idea and ran with it, educating herself constantly about foundations, and then educating the others who with Sarah, had formed a board of directors by this time. Sarah taught that one didn’t have to be wealthy to start a fund which would live on long after the donors were gone; that no one should be afraid to ask people to begin funds or to donate; and Sarah never asked anyone to do anything she would not do herself.
Knowing that William Harman’s estate had grown substantially over the years since his death, Sarah talked to his widow about allowing the Tucker Community Foundation to manage and care for the funds, using the criteria Mr. Harman had set forth before he passed. As a result of that and other donations, both large and small, the foundation is now worth more than twenty million dollars and funds many entities. Thousands of dollars in scholarships are given each year, and businesses have been started with grants from Tucker Community Foundation. Sarah went on to become the founding president of the West Virginia Grantmakers Association
Locally, Sarah was a member and often an officer of many organizations, a few of which are the River City Garden Club, Tucker County Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau, Ohio/WV YMCA, the Allegheny Front Regional Development Authority and the Presbyterian Church. Sarah is also a member of the newly-formed Cortland Foundation Board and of the Mon Valley Tri-State Network.
When J. Kenton Lambert was a state senator, Sarah was his secretary and learned a great deal about how the state government operated. Later, she herself became a state senator, having been elected in 1994, 1998 and 2002. . She was on the board of the West Virginia Region VII Planning and Development Council, and as a senator, she represented seven counties and served on many important committees. She chose not to seek reelection in 2006, bringing to an end a dedicated career of public service.
Kay Currance Flanagan has made a life’s work of setting goals and achieving them. The 1957 PHS Yearbook says Kay was going to be a nurse. After graduation from PHS, she earned her RN at St. Mary’s School of Nursing, just as she planned. Out of college, she married her high-school sweetheart, also as planned. He fulfilled his plans of joining the military, and they moved to Michigan where she began her nursing career. While she was prepared for the field of surgical nursing, she began in labor and delivery and found she loved that part of nursing.
With the military service behind them, they moved to Alexandria, Virginia where she began working at the hospital as a post-partum nurse. She then moved to labor and delivery where she spent 21 years, then 5 years in OB/GYN. After leaving the hospital, she moved on to working for Blue Cross/Blue Shield for 14 years before retiring.
Kay has always been an avid volunteer, giving of herself and her goods to others. An active member of her church and the women’s group in Alexandria, she handled all the very specific jobs because she was so dependable. After retirement, Kay learned to knit and began knitting prayer shawls for people who were sick. Anyone who receives a “prayer shawl” before going into surgery or other serious procedure knows the feeling of love that is generated by the knowledge that all the people who signed the card which comes with the shawl, has prayed for him/her.
When they moved back to Tucker County a few years ago, Kay not only continued that effort but began teaching others to knit. She also began volunteering at Cortland Acres Nursing Home in Thomas. Kay helps take residents on shopping trips and various other excursions. It means so much to them, knowing she gives of her time to make their days brighter. She also works in Cortland’s gift shop each Sunday afternoon. Her new church home in Parsons is happy to have such a willing volunteer.
Orphaned at an early age, Kay was raised by her aunt and uncle, and she remained so grateful to them throughout their lives. In turn, she did them very proud. At PHS, Kay was a member of Tri Hi Y and the National Honor Society, and headed up the majorette corps. Everyone admired her efforts toward excellence then, and all who know her value the woman she has become. Tucker County is so glad to have Kay Flanagan back in the community doing all the good that she does.
Submittted by Priscilla Flanagan