Obed Conaway Parsons
COLUMBIA — Long-time Columbia firefighter Obed Conaway Parsons died Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, in Columbia. He was 78.
He was a firefighter with the Columbia Fire Department for 28 years. At the time of his retirement, he was a lieutenant at Station 4 on Paris Road.
“He was a very good firefighter — very dependable,” said Girard Wren, who was fire chief at the time of Mr. Parsons’ retirement.
Mr. Parsons was born Mar. 16, 1932, in Maloy, Iowa, to Obed King and Freda Bernice (Howell) Parsons. He married Freda Mae Siegrist on Sept. 10, 1954, in West Plains.
After the birth of their oldest daughter, Ramona Mae, the family moved to Columbia in 1956, so Mr. Parsons could look for work. Mr. Parsons worked as a city+ bus driver before becoming a firefighter.
“His customers taught him the city,” Freda Parsons said of the people who rode his bus.
After Mr. Parsons retired from the fire department in 1984, he and his wife moved first to Warsaw, Mo., near Truman Lake and then to Mountain View.
Mr. Parsons enjoyed fishing, hunting, reading Westerns, doing crossword puzzles, watching wildlife and gardening.
“He would do the vegetables and I would do the flowers,” Freda Parsons said. “We had so much we usually gave it away to church members, neighborhood watch members and nieces and nephews.”
Every year after 1984 until gas prices rose above $3 per gallon, Mr. Parsons and his wife spent winters in Arizona, where he enjoyed panning for gold, and in Padre Island, Texas, near Corpus Christi, where he went deep-sea fishing.
“We stopped when the fishing license got over $80,” Freda Parsons said. “He said we could catch more fish at the restaurant for $80 than we could in the ocean.”
Family was very important to Mr. Parsons. His daughter, Ruena Kinsaul, said he made sure to instill the value of hard work in his children and to take the time to have fun as a family by going on trips across the country, to the movies and to amusement parks.
“He went above and beyond the basics," Kinsaul said. "He always tried to make things better for us kids and Mom.”
Kinsaul said her father was always trying to do something more. In the 1970s, he became an EMT, so he could further his career at the fire department.
“He was a very intelligent man. He would see things, wonder how they work and find out how they work," Kinsaul said. "He was a tinker and he fixed everything if he could make it work.”
Mr. Parsons is survived by his wife; three daughters, Ramona Mae Lewis of Auxvasse, Ruena Kinsaul of Jefferson City and Rita Ann Cason of Fayette; a son, Ronnie Obed Parsons of Clark; six grandchildren, Christina, Chase, Cindy Mae, Daniel, Cortney and Joshua; and five great-grandchildren.
His three brothers and six sisters died earlier.
A memorial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lost Camp Baptist Church, 5476 State Route UU, in Pomona.