March 11, 1920 – October 10, 2017
Effie Parsons lived a life filled with laughter, family, home cooking, and music. She sang harmony with her parents, sweet cousins, and her children through her 97 years. She was born Effie Pearl Sweet in 1920 to Arthur and Docia Sweet in Bandon, Oregon. Four years later, Art and Docia purchased the Arizona Inn and Ranch near Ophir, Ore. Effie later related she had an idyllic childhood with her siblings - older sister, Neonta and younger brothers, Sydney and Ralph. At the Arizona Inn they had a secluded beach and myrtlewood grove for childhood adventures; a freshwater pond for swimming; food aplenty from the fruit orchard, garden, and ocean; and large parties with homemade music.
The Depression took its toll on the Inn and the family moved to a dairy ranch at the mouth of the Sixes River at Cape Blanco in 1935. Effie was grateful to have such remarkable, kind, caring, hardworking, loving parents. After graduating from high school (Port Orford class of ’37), she attended Southern Oregon Normal School in Ashland. She received her teaching degree and met her future husband (the best dancer), Jim Parsons. After her first year of teaching at Kerby, Ore., she moved home and taught second and third grades in Port Orford. She rode the school bus with her students, who fondly called her “Miss Effie.”
In June of 1941, Effie and Jim were married in the Port Orford Community Church where Effie attended Sunday school for so many years. They spent their honeymoon camping on the Rogue River. After a summer in Eugene, where Jim finished his BA at U of O, they moved to Berkeley, California and Jim worked in the shipyards. They rented a store with an apartment in the back, and opened the “Vitamin Market,” selling fresh fruits and vegetables. In 1943, Effie gave birth to her first child, Patricia and a year later daughter Peggy was born. In 1944, Jim joined the Navy and was sent to the South Pacific. Effie and the girls moved to Sixes for the duration of the war.
The young family moved to Ashland after Jim returned from the war in 1948. They founded Parsons Box Factory, supplying wooden boxes to the valley orchards. Sons David and Steve were born. The box factory grew into Parsons Pine Products, manufacturing louvers, toy parts, mousetraps, and specialty wood products. Besides working almost every job at the plant, Effie was the office manager and bookkeeper for the company. She was a trailblazer for women’s rights in business and education with her position as president of BPW and years of leadership in Ashland PTAs, where the four Parsons kids attended all 12 years of school.
After growing a successful business, Effie and Jim retired to Port Orford where they built a house on Coast Guard Hill above the dock. It became a favorite retreat for family and friends, who were welcomed with camaraderie; singing; and abundant, delicious food. A collection of Effie’s favorite recipes as well as her life history from a culinary point of view was published as The Sweet Taste of Home Cooking. The Hughes House Restoration project greatly benefited from Effie’s organizational talents, as did the numerous cousins who attended frequent Sweet family reunions in Coos and Curry counties.
Effie and Jim reluctantly gave up their active life on the coast, frequent cruises, and trips to their cabin on the Rogue. They settled into a cottage at the Rogue Valley Manor and subsequently the Manor’s Health Center where they received outstanding care. They were married 73 years when Jim passed away in 2014. In addition to their four children, (Patricia, Peggy, David, and Steve), they leave four grandchildren, (Pamela, Michael, Christopher, and Delanie); six great-grandchildren,(Alexandria, Jackson, Morgan, Jack, Caroline, and Georgia); and great-great grandson, Jobey.
Effie passed away peacefully October 10, 2017. Her best advice was: “The word is picnic, not nitpick,” and “Don’t forget the sense of humor.” Her grace and generosity are an inspiration. Her music-filled laughter will sing on through all who knew her and sang along with her.