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Virginia Parks passes
Virginia M. "Betty" Parks, a longtime Ceres community activist and namesake for an elementary school, died Wednesday, August 31 at the Alexander Cohen Hospice House in Hughson. She was 96.

Park was known for being passionate about education. She was elected to the Ceres High School Board of Trustees and served 1959 to 1965 and then to the Ceres Unified School District Board of Trustees (1965-1970) where she served as president (1969-70). She served on the Stanislaus School Boards Association and assisted in unification in 1965. Mrs. Parks chaired the first drug abuse committee established by CUSD in 1970 and also represented CHS on the Ceres Parks and Recreation Commission. She was also passionate about supporting outdoor education, and served on the CHS Scholarship Committee since it was formed in 1980.

In the 1989 CUSD honored her commitment toward education by naming a new school after her. Mrs. Parks often came to the school to participate in school events and spur students on in their school work.

The Ceres community was Betty's lifetime avocation. For approximately 75 years, Betty devoted time, effort and resources to many aspects of Ceres life, and she had been recognized many times for her work. Shortly after marriage, she joined the Ceres Methodist Church and remained active in it until a few years ago.

She was a charter member and past president of Persephone Guild and worked on many of their philanthropic projects from rummage sales, to the annual Strawberry Breakfast, and the Faith Home Teen Ranch.

Since 1955, she volunteered with the Salvation Army/Red Shield on social service and children's programs as well as administrative committees and as a Christmas bell ringer.

Her other activities included serving as a director of the Ceres Chamber of Commerce (1976), being an honorary member of Soroptimists since 1977, serving six years on the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, serving as a Girl Scout leader in the 1950s, and enjoying an honorary member of Rotary International. She was also instrumental in the founding of the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children.

Betty also worked with the American Field Service program, the Ceres community Christmas welfare project, the Stanislaus County Historical Society and the Ceres Drop-in Center.

Among her many awards were being named Ceres Citizen of the Year in 1977, the Liberty Bell Award for contributions to education by the Teachers Association of Stanislaus County; and being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotarians in 1986. She was also the 1993 Agri-business Woman of the Year of Ceres. In 1993 she was bestowed as one of Stanislaus County's Outstanding Women by the Stanislaus County Commission for Women.

Born in Lester, Iowa, in 1915 to Alonzo and Maude Mullins, Betty was the second of five daughters. After a short stay in Louisiana, the family moved to Oakdale in the 1920s where her father was the Church of the Brethren minister. Betty graduated from Oakdale High School and attended Modesto Junior College. She was a social worker for Stanislaus County before marrying peach rancher Lloyd S. Parks in 1937. Betty assisted ranch operations by serving as bookkeeper. During World War II, she served the home wartime effort as an airplane spotter. She enjoyed gardening.

She is survived by her daughter Pam Hall of Oregon; and two sisters, Aletha Nichols and Nonda Kellogg. Betty was preceded in death by husband Lloyd in 1976, her parents and sisters Barbara Lynch and Martha Olthoff.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to the Salvation Army/Red Shield, P.O. Box 580480, Modesto, 95358 or to the Ceres High School Scholarship Trust Fund, 2320 Central Avenue, Ceres CA 95307.