Clare County Review & Marion Press

Obituary: Bill Parkhurst

The following is the obituary that Bill Parkhurst wrote about himself before he died, quickly followed by the obituary his wife and kids wrote about him. Unorthodox and long, yes, but we have a lot to say about our sweet Bill.
Born in Cadillac, Michigan on September 12, 1960 to Ted Parkhurst and Rose Mary Parkhurst (Flemming), the youngest of five siblings, Bill was loved and spoiled by his mom and three older sisters all his life. He attended public school in Marion, Michigan and Alma College in Alma, Michigan where he graduated with a degree in History. While at Valparaiso University School of Law, his eyes met those of a beautiful woman from Batavia, Illinois; he married this angel on April Fool’s Day 1989. Bill clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh W. Brenneman for two years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, then joined a law firm in Grandville, Michigan. When the babies started coming, Bill and Julie moved to Julie’s hometown of Batavia,Illinois and Bill hung out a shingle as a sole practitioner in Geneva. His first office desk was a card table. He was awarded a contract to represent parents in abuse and neglect cases. In 1996, he joined the law firm of Johnson Westra Broecker Whittaker and Newitt where he continued to work out of their Geneva office. At Julie’s urging, Bill started applying for the position of associate judge. After numerous tries, he was appointed to the bench in Kane County. He served in many courtrooms around the county but he especially enjoyed officiating at weddings and adoptions. Following a tradition begun by his mom and his sisters, Bill’s in-laws spoiled him as well. After a diagnosis of gallbladder cancer, Julie took time off from her career as an educator to wait on Bill full-time. After a nine month fight with cancer Bill passed away on August 26th surrounded by his lovely children, Will R.T. Parkhurst, Lena Rose Parkhurst, Margaret Leanne Parkhurst and Joseph B. Parkhurst and his loving wife Julia F. Parkhurst. Bill enjoyed skeet shooting and playing ukulele. He loved being a judge and a dad to his children. Bill is survived by his wife and kids and four siblings, Gail Parkhurst, Ted (Linda) Parkhurst, Mary(Bob) Reindel, Penny (Thom) Robinson and seven wonderful nieces and nephews and by his in-laws, Leanne Feuerborn, Bob Feuerborn, Dan (Julie) Feuerborn, Paul (Debbie)Feuerborn, Andrew (Rita) Feuerborn, Gretchen (Craig)Scheel, and Steve (Megan) Feuerborn and sixteen wonderful nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Marion Public Library, Ted Parkhurst, Library Board Chairman at PO Box 356, Marion, MI 49665 or to Administer Justice in Elgin, IL.
Bill’s Obit written by his kids and wife:
Judge William (Bill) Parkhurst died at home on August 26, 2022 of gallbladder cancer. That day the world lost a very kind human. Bill was born on September 12, 1960 to parents, Rosie and Ted in Marion, Michigan. Bill took after his mom in that he was proper and smart, bookish and musical, kinder than kind and full of gratitude. His father taught Bill to play cards, to love books, to change the oil in his Volkswagen, and to enjoy the great outdoors. Like his dad, Bill was a polymath, interested in everything: history, art, mathematics, numismatology, legal, and political theory. Also like his parents, Bill loved a good game of cards. You wouldn’t know Bill was competitive until you weren’t playing fast enough. He may have occasionally said “play the damn game” to his kids who liked to multitask while playing. In cards, euchre, pinochle, or cribbage, he put his first rate mind to good use.
Bill would often recount stories of his siblings and his idyllic childhood in Marion, MI. He was proud of his oldest sister, Gail, who followed Bill’s lead and became a lawyer, and who spoiled Bill with pies and admiration. Bill was the apple of her eye. He always looked up to his brother Ted with whom Bill shared a love of books, knives, and art. Bill loved his sister, Mary, who could do no wrong in Bill’s eyes and made Bill laugh and equals Bill in kindness. And finally, sweet Penny, who always welcomed Bill with open arms, from daily lunches during middle school to allowing him to crash her early dates with Thom, to hosting his whole family at every turn. Thom, too, held a special place of honor in Bill’s heart with his generous heart and unique humor, unmatched in Bill’s opinion. Bill never doubted for a moment that he was loved by his parents and siblings. He was the beloved baby of the family.
Bill is survived by his siblings, Gail, Ted and Linda, Mary and Bob, and Penny and Thom and also by their wonderful children and grandchildren whom Bill adored including, Dawn and Todd Blake and Abbey Blake, Lucy and Chris Baehr and Harper and Reese Baehr, Laura and Robb Reindel, Jake and Kristin Robinson and Ryder, Abe, and Fritz Robinson, Abby Robinson, and Justin and Marta and Lucy and Tommy Robinson.
Bill met his wife, Julie at Valparaiso University when Julie was an undergrad and he was finishing law school. Julie told her roommate, after just meeting Bill, that this was the man she would marry. The first time their paths crossed was not the right timing, but two years later (and thanks to Bill’s sister, Gail’s nudge) their relationship was rekindled. One year to the day of their second-first date, they were married at the old Holy Cross in Batavia on April 1, 1989. Bill and Julie loved biking together, visiting art museums, and traveling to Michigan and national and state parks, and of course, to see their kids in Florida, Virginia, and Nevada.
Julie and Bill spent thirty-four years in love. More importantly they were each other’s best friend and continued to adore each other to the bitter end. In fact, during his last days of communicating, Bill would turn to Julie periodically and say things like, “I want you to be so happy.” and “I hope you have a great life.” and “I hope you find so much joy.” and most importantly, “I love you.” He was loving and generous to the end.
Bill was such a loving father to his four kids, Will, Lena, Margaret, and Joseph Parkhurst. Bill was a patient and gentle dad. Bill would always listen to his kids’ new and sometimes radical (to him) beliefs and try to understand them. He wasn’t afraid to grow and learn and would tell you if he had found that he was wrong about something. Bill shared his love of books with his kids. He read to them daily when they were young. And made up imaginative stories to tell his kids. From early on Bill treated Will, Lena, Maggie, and Joe like intellectual equals, discussing the news and using the world map as conversation starter. Bill taught his kids that trying was the important part of life and that failure was okay. He loved, admired, and accepted his daughters and his sons unconditionally. Bill was just so extremely proud of each of them and they were so very proud of him.
In 1989, Bill became a beloved member of the Feuerborn Family. He lived patiently surrounded by Julie’s people. He loved his sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws, near and far, and his 16 Feuerborn/Scheel nieces and nephews. Most importantly Bill was adored by his mother-in-law, Leanne, and he loved and respected her right back. Bill will be missed by Dan and Julie Feuerborn, Paul and Debbie Feuerborn, Andrew and Rita Feuerborn, Gretchen and Craig Scheel, and Steve and Megan Feuerborn and his 16 Feuerborn and Scheel nieces and nephews whom he loved so very much. Bill was a huge fan of Sam and Lindsay, Tatiana, Jacquie, Colleen, Jacob, Charlie, Henry, Elise, Grace, Ben, Dane, Miranda, Evelyn, Nolan, Mallory, and Mackenzie. Bill is also survived by a whole host of Julie’s extended family including her dad, Bob Feuerborn, and Will’s amazing girlfriend, Maddy Westbrook.
There are so many other things that you should know about Bill. He abhorred arguing, yet was a divorce attorney for more than 20 years and a judge for a decade. He always said that being a judge was the honor of his life. He believed in manners, although his kids’ and wife’s manners were never as polished as his were. He always wanted everyone to get along and for kindness to rule the day and would leave the room if his kids argued because he just wanted to hear good things from them.
Bill had a great voice for singing, but thought (thanks to some foolish ex girlfriend), that he didn’t. He was often told that he had a voice for the radio. Later in life, Julie gave Bill “the greatest gift he’d ever received”, a ukulele. Bill learned to play the ukulele and spent hours and hours practicing and entertaining his family. The ukes (because he may have purchased a few) made him so happy. He said playing it was like medicine for the mind. Many family members received a uke from Bill because he wanted everyone to experience the same happiness that he did.
Bill was an optimist, sometimes to the point of being called a Pollyanna, He believed in the goodness of people and in their capacity to care for each other. Bill never gave up hope that people would do the right thing. He lived out the goodness and care that he expected from the world. He gave to many charities and those in need generously with his time, talent, and treasure, twice winning awards for his pro bono legal work. But, Bill was humble and would not really like us to write any of this.
We are grief stricken, but we also know that Bill would want us to move forward, looking for the beauty in the world and in the people around us. He would want us to go for bike rides, to travel somewhere new, to collect rocks at a lake, to visit museums and parks, to read good books, to seek joy, to be grateful, to treat each other gently, and to try to do the best we can to make the world a better place through our words and actions. So, that is what we will do. Bill Parkhurst made the world a better place by being his sweet, generous, polite and funny self. We will miss him forever.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Marion Public Library, Ted Parkhurst, Library Board Chairman at PO Box 356, Marion, MI 49665 or to Administer Justice 1750 Grandstand Place Elgin, IL.60123

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