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  • Obituary

Patty Conklin

Updated: May 15

August 31, 1932 - April 26, 2024

Patty Marie Conklin departed this world on a beautiful spring day with family by her side.  

Patty was born at home in rural Fontana, KS to parents Lena May Hicks and Ralph Earl Hicks.  A curly-headed child, she was often compared to Shirley Temple.  Patty began school in Oroville, CA where her family had relocated for work.  However, her family returned to Kansas shortly thereafter at the insistence of a family member remaining in Kansas.  Patty completed her education in Parker, KS.  She had a knack for writing and served as editor-in-chief of the Scarlet & Gold school newspaper at Parker Rural High School, where she graduated in 1950.  

She married Elwood Dean Conklin on May 27, 1950.  Early in their marriage, she cared for her father-in-law, George Conklin, who stayed in their home.  She shared the story of a time when she drove George back from the VA Hospital in Topeka during a blinding snowstorm.  Patty and Elwood had two daughters Marlea Marie and Deana Rae.  As a wife and mother Patty dedicated herself to the care of her family, supporting her daughters’ 4-H, FHA, music, and church endeavors, and sewing fashionable dresses and gowns for their special events.

When daughter Deana Rae passed away, Patty did her very best to fill her void and provide motherly support to her grandkids.  She took her grandkids clothes shopping, gave driving lessons, cooked with her grandkids, attended school events, and provided household items for their dorm rooms, college apartments, and first homes.  Patty also served as guardian for her first grandson, R.L.  She generously shared her time and resources.

Patty was a small town girl who always strived to improve her community and boost morale. Through persistence and collaboration with other concerned citizens in the community, Patty was instrumental in preventing the closure of Parker Elementary School.  She was active in the Parker Friends of the Library group and baked many dozens of cookies to fundraise for Parker Library’s new building.  She enjoyed local politics, was passionate about exercising her right to vote, always encouraging her family to do so, and was a dedicated election worker at the Parker Senior Center for many years.  Patty could always be counted on to provide her famous apple and chocolate silk pies for funeral dinners and events at Parker Methodist Church.

During her husband’s retirement, she helped husband Elwood maintain the various cemeteries in Linn County.  She always ensured that their loved ones’ graves were adorned with flowers—particularly peonies—on Memorial Day and that the veterans’ graves had flags.  She also assisted with her husband’s farm activities on their acreage south of Parker.  She especially enjoyed supporting his musical (saxophone) endeavors and proved to be his biggest fan.  Her family has discovered multiple cassette tapes of concerts she recorded from the Band of Oz and Garnett Community Band concerts, music played at the senior center and local dances, and music that Elwood played with his grandchildren. Patty also loved to dance and tried not to miss an opportunity to do so.  

Patty enjoyed taking road trips to historic places over the years.  At age 75, she conquered her fear of heights and flew to South Carolina.  During that trip, she put her feet in the Atlantic Ocean, traveled by ferry for the first time, and visited Fort Sumter.

She is preceded in death by her daughter, Deana Rae Sutton, her husband Elwood Conklin, and her first grandson, R.L. Jones.

She is survived by daughter Marlea Erskine; grandchildren, Angela Baumann (Sutton) and husband Andrew, Ryan Sutton and wife Suzy, and Rachel Summers (Sutton) and husband Jason; as well as five great-grandchildren, Hunter, Gatlynn, Ridley, Leland, and Landri.

The family will receive visitors on Thursday, May 2nd, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Parker, and the funeral service will immediately follow.  A private burial will take place at Goodrich Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be given to the Parker Public Library in care of Eddy Birchard Funeral Home.  

(Published in the Linn County Journal on April 30, 2024.)

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