Deborah Lynn Smock Parks (May 2, 1952 – May 23, 2023)

Deborah “Deb” Lynn Smock Parks, beloved mother, wife, sister, friend, and cherished member of the Unity Temple community, made her transition on May 23, 2023 surrounded by family and friends.  She leaves behind a legacy of love, strength, and compassion. Deb touched the lives of all who knew her with her unwavering support, patience, and thoughtfulness. She is survived by her spouse Laurel, son Sam, daughter Brie, daughter-in-law Elif, grandson Orion, sister Susie, and brothers Jeff and Bruce. She is predeceased by her parents, DeLoris and Joseph Smock, and brother Greg. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in Independence, Missouri. She attended college at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg where she met many lifelong friends. Deb entered an innovative Blood Banking Assistant program at the Community Blood Center and, after her rotation, decided she liked working in the laboratory. Her career as a technician and supervisor continued at CBC for over 34 years until she retired.

Her spouse Laurel recalls her as a fiercely independent, compassionate, and passionate woman who cared deeply for her family. As the oldest of five children, she embraced her role as a caretaker and nurturer. She was a pillar of strength for her brother Greg, lovingly supporting him during his long battle with cancer, accompanying him to chemo and radiation treatments. Deb’s sister Susie remembers her as someone with strong convictions, as a lover of all living things, and as a talented artist, crafter, and seamstress. She possessed an amazing memory and was always there to support and remember all the details of their lives together. Deb’s daughter Brie remembers her as not just a great mom, but as a best friend who loved to join her on travel adventures, watch movies, attend concerts, share laughs, or just listen and provide a shoulder to cry on.

Deb had a profound love for her family and friends, spending cherished moments with them both at home, around town, and on cross country road trips and international trips across the Atlantic. Traveling brought immense joy to Deb’s life. Her spirit for adventure was matched only by her love for music, especially The Beatles, with Paul McCartney holding a special place in her heart. Even as her expressive language faded, she would still sing along to Beatles songs with her loved ones.

She found joy in gardening, cultivating a unique and beautiful yard that was a haven for butterflies and bees. Her vibrant garden, an official Monarch Waystation named “Live and Let Fly,” showcased her unique vision and appreciation for nature. Her creativity extended to her artistic pursuits, whether it was painting, crafting, or sewing. Later in life she fearlessly embraced new experiences, earning her Associate’s degree from Penn Valley Community College in her forties, and after retiring taking a welding class in her sixties, simply because she had always wanted to.

Deb was an avid reader and fan of fiction and mysteries, with a special fondness for the Outlander series. Deb would often lose herself in the pages of a good book. When she and Laurel were dating, she would curl up in bed and spend entire weekends reading, too engrossed in a story to answer the phone.

Throughout her life, Deb cultivated deep and meaningful friendships. Her loyalty, thoughtfulness, and unwavering support were cherished by all who had the privilege of calling her a friend. One of her closest friends, Pat, remembers her as a loyal and true friend. No matter how far away one might have moved, she always stayed in touch. She had an eye for beauty and was an avid admirer of art, gardens, and concerts. Deb’s love for shopping led her to find the most unique gifts for her friends, and she never forgot a birthday. Her friend since college, Betty, remembers her as loyal and kind. Her lifelong friend, Gayla, shares cherished memories of their deep bond. They saw the Beatles together in 1964 when they were just twelve years old and this became a signature event that solidified their bond for nearly 60 years. She was a music lover and a #1 Beatles Fan… and was especially fond of Paul McCartney. Deb had a creative eye and she loved and appreciated beauty in all its incarnations.

Her thoughtfulness extended beyond her friends, as she cared deeply about women’s rights and was a dedicated supporter of Planned Parenthood. Deb also had a heart that welcomed everyone, finding community at Unity Temple on the Plaza. She served punch and cookies on Sundays and volunteered as a receptionist there and was a member of the church for nearly 25 years. She believed that love is love, no matter where it is found.

Although she is no longer physically with us, her love, memories, and influence will forever remain in the hearts of her loved ones, serving as a guiding light in their lives.  Her strength of conviction, her love for living things, and her unwavering support for causes she believed in will be cherished by all. Deb will be deeply missed, but her spirit will continue to inspire and bring comfort to all who knew her.

  • Deb’s Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, June 9th at 3pm in the sanctuary at Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 West 47th Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64112. Reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, her family kindly requests making a donation to Unity Temple, Planned Parenthood, or PSP & CBD Foundation
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