Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Jack Parkhurst (1939-2018)

Townsend Township man invested in fire department


VICKERY, Ohio — Jack Parkhurst, a farmer, trucker, tractor collector, and former fire chief whose mother’s gift of land aided the creation of a township volunteer fire department, died Sept. 29 at Stein Hospice in Sandusky. He was 79.

He learned that he had cancer less than a month before his death, his wife, Joyce Parkhurst, said.

“The second week of July, he was raking hay and baling hay,” his wife said.

He lived on the farm where he grew up in Sandusky County’s Townsend Township. With his son, Joe, Mr. Parkhurst grew corn, soybeans, and wheat.

He first sat atop a tractor as a boy, placed there by his father, Clifford Parkhurst. He was 12 years old when his father died and in time assumed the duties, growing grain and, until about 1970, raising beef cattle — Herefords, his wife said.

“He had a love for it. It’s mother nature in a sense,” his wife said. “He loved producing the crops.”

He was a 1957 graduate of the former Townsend High School. Not long after, a group of township residents got together to form a volunteer fire department, rather than rely on fire protection from Clyde, Ohio, several miles away. His mother, Catherine Parkhurst, donated the land for the fire station — which Mr. Parkhurst had a hand in building. His mother and other women of the township put on a dinner in her living room as a fund-raiser for the fledgling department.

“He was passionate with it and proud of what it became through the years,” said his son, who was a firefighter.

Mr. Parkhurst served as chief for about a decade, from the 1980s into the 1990s, his son said.

“He had good leadership by that time — experience, years of experience and training,” his son said. He remained an adviser to the department after stepping down as chief.

Off the farm, Mr. Parkhurst for 40 years was a truck driver, an owner-operator who hauled steel machinery on a flat bed across Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. He worked mostly through Miller Transfer and Rigging in northeast Ohio, which honored him for decades of safe driving.

He liked the independence, his son said: “He was his own boss then.”

He was a member of Sandusky County Restorers of Antique Power and liked to take part in pulls aboard an antique tractor. “He won a few trophies,” his wife said.

Conversation and fellowship were the main draw, his son said, “visiting all the other older gentleman and talking about tractors and the good old days.”

His father used tractors made by the Oliver Farm Equipment Co., and Mr. Parkhurst followed suit. “One day we looked and said, ‘We have a pretty good collection started, and they’re all antiques now,’” his son said.

John C. Parkhurst was born July 9, 1939.

Surviving are his wife, the former Joyce Dowdle, whom he married July 6, 1963; daughters, Jacque Greene and Jennifer Parkhurst-Skala; son, Joseph Parkhurst; sisters, Carol Petenzi and June Riedy; five grandchildren; four step-grandchildren, three great-grandchildren; and eight step-great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends from 2-5 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Townsend Township residence of his son and daughter-in-law, Joe and Kelly Parkhurst, with a brief service at 2 p.m. Arrangements are by Ransom Funeral Service, Castalia, Ohio.

The family suggests tributes in support of tractor pulls at S.C.R.A.P. Inc., 5175 County Road 65, Gibsonburg, OH, 43431.

Contact Mark Zaborney at or 419-724-6182.

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