Jane Roberts Parnell passed away November 15, 2018

On November 15 at 1:44 PM, our precious son Wil, guided Jane Roberts Parnell to her eternal resting place in the holy light of heaven.  Her niece, Katy Ward, has experienced many spiritual instances in which her brother, Wil Ward, is indeed Angel Number 44 – angels actually have numbers.  Incredibly they both passed away at 1:44 PM on different dates.  While music was playing, her sister, Cindy Ward and Katy were by her side as well as other dear friends, her incredible doctor and nurses and her brother-in-law, Bill Ward via telephone as Jane passed peacefully and quickly at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock.  After a successful lung surgery, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome set in, and Dr. Cidney Hulett and his team tried everything possible to save her.  Her enormous capacity for love, laughter, and compassion is remembered and cherished by those unprepared for the departure of her beautiful energetic spirit.  With Jane’s warm smile and quick wit, she was a blessing to all who knew her.

Jane was a wizard when it came to playing games (Probably very few knew she was a member of MENSA).  On our annual Florida “High School Girls” trips, we would always play Trivial Pursuit.  Everyone definitely wanted to be on her team!  Jane loved crossword puzzles, especially the “New York Times” Sunday edition, which she would always do in ink!  She enjoyed playing bridge, gin rummy, computer games and Mahjong winning many trophies.  She loved her TV crime shows, movies and stage plays driving to Little Rock or Memphis with friends to see them. 

However, her driving passion was playing golf.  She played golf courses all over the country with different groups of women, but the most fun for her was playing tournaments with both men and women partners in Newport and around the state of Arkansas again winning several trophies.         

Since age ten, Jane lived her life in Newport, Arkansas, where she participated in almost every community activity – a very busy woman indeed.  She was involved in Chapter R of P.E.O., the Newport Planning Commission Board, United Health/Harris Hospital Foundation Board member, Jackson Country Historical Society Board member, Newport Special School District Charitable Foundation Board member,  Selection Committee for the Edith and Roy Evans Scholarship Fund,  Beverly Tapp Memorial Scholarship Fund Selection Committee, Newport Country Club past Board member, President of the Newport Country Club Ladies Golf Association, and the Newcomers of Newport, Arkansas.    

Jane graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 1968 and began teaching school in Bradford, Arkansas, later transferring to the Newport School District where she taught Language Arts for thirty plus years until her retirement in 2000.  She loved her students and they loved her.  To quote a former student, “Ms. Jane Parnell was vibrant, fun and the first and only Junior High English teacher that taught class five days a week in a business suit and heels like a boss!  She owned her identity and independence and was loved for it.  She will be missed by many.  It didn’t matter how long it had been since we had seen each other, she was always happy to see me and seemed to know exactly what I had been doing in my grownup life.” 

After retiring she tossed those business suits and high heels for cool golf outfits, more casual clothing and swim suits.  Her bag was always packed and she was ready to travel and play.  She became a long-distance traveler and went on adventures throughout the United States, Europe and to her home-away-from home, Paradise Island, Nassau.  She was passionate about many different ethnic foods and especially “dirty” and “chocolate” martinis along with a damn good Blood Mary.  Jane had an uncanny gift for locating donut shops when traveling; her donut antennae raised up!  There wasn’t a costume she did not dare to wear for any occasion!

Jane escaped death three times evading two very rare, serious lung diseases.  She also survived the horrific Hardee’s accident in 2006 when a truck drove through the restaurant, taking the lives of two dear friends, Beverly Tapp and Jane Wright, and seriously injuring two others.  Jane was blown under the serving counter and even though covered in glass she was the least injured.  She quietly grieved for the rest of her life over the losses and the injuries of her other precious friends, Pat Brown and cousin Carol Brand. 

Of all the small towns in the world, Newport, Arkansas, and its residents are the most loving, caring, compassionate, generous people.  When our family moved to Newport in 1957, the people of Newport embraced us with open, loving arms as it was not a good time in our lives as our parents were divorcing.  All of you past and present saved us by wrapping your arms around us and making us feel warmly welcomed and safe - it is our roots.          

Jane is predeceased by her mother, Irene Thompson Roberts; her father, Lt. Colonel Lewis V. Roberts (retired); her nephew, William C. Ward, Jr.; her close cousin, Glenn Gay.   

Jane is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Cindy and Bill Ward, her niece, Katy Ward, her step-mother, Elena Roberts, cousins, Donna and Tom Gay, Carol and Rodger Brand and family.

Jane’s Memorial Service will be held December 8 at 5:00 PM at Jackson’s Newport Funeral Home with a Celebration of Life to follow at the Newport Country Club.  We wish to thank our many friends in Dallas and Newport for helping us through this tragic time.    

Those wishing to make a memorial gift are encouraged to consider either of the following:  Arkansas Center for Independence (previously the Jackson County Learning Center), P. O. Box 785, Newport, Arkansas, 72112, 870-523-8488, Executive Director, Glenda May or donate on line at www.arcenterforindependence.org.  or the Newport Special School District Charitable Foundation, P. O. Box 166, Newport, Arkansas, 72112, Attention:  Melissa Kieffner.  Both are non-profits with 501C status. 

Arrangements by Jackson’s Newport Funeral Home.