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Sara Parsons

01/20/1933 - 02/27/2024


Obituary For Sara Parsons

Sara C. Parsons, 91, of Rapid City, SD, passed away on February 27, 2024.

Sarah Ella Cloninger was born at home in Mount Holly, Gaston County, North Carolina on 20 January 1933. Her parents were Charles Corbett “Charlie” Cloninger Sr. (1895-1973) and Ella “Ellawee” Rummage (1898-1942).

To correct a “pigeon toe” condition, doctors at the North Carolina Orthopedic Hospital had Sara wear lace-up “Mother Goose” high-top shoes on the wrong feet until she was in the first grade! On 10 September 1936, during treatment at the hospital in Gastonia, young Sara and her father met President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“FDR”) who spoke with her father and held Sara’s hand. Later that day, FDR gave his famous “Green Pastures” speech in nearby Charlotte.

In early grade school Sara unofficially dropped the “h” from the end of her given name to avoid confusion between her and a classroom friend who was also named Sarah, never using the “h” on her name again. When Sara was nine, her mother passed away from acute lymphocytic leukemia and the following year her father married Zephia Adeline “Bummy” Bumgardner (1900-1968) who became very close to Sara.

In 1951 Sara graduated from Mount Holly High School where she played the clarinet and was in the girls’ chorus. In July 1954, while working in Memphis, Tennessee for Fidelity Life Insurance, Sara met her future husband Donald Jean “Don” Parsons (1930-2012) at the United Service Organization. He was a U.S. Navy instructor in nearby Millington, Tennessee. In December 1954 they were married by family friend Father Martin “Pop” Hayes, O.S.B. in Belmont Abbey in Gaston County, North Carolina.

In 1965 Sara, her husband Don, and their four young children (Doug, Candice, Cindy, and Roxy) settled in Rapid City, South Dakota. Sara will be remembered as a good mother, skilled bowler and bridge player, but a less-than-stellar cook (unless frozen TV dinners count)! She and Don developed a thriving Internet-based business, Parsons’ Minerals & Fossils. They were avid field collectors frequenting South Dakota’s Black Hills mines and Badlands fossil collecting locales. They were married for 58 years when Don passed away from lung cancer in 2012.

Sara died peacefully on 27 February 2024 in Rapid City, South Dakota following a short battle with a combination of physical health issues and a concurrent rapid onset of dementia. She was preceded in death by her siblings Shirley Virginia Cloninger (1919-2000), Charles Corbett “Charles” Cloninger Jr. (1923-2013), and Elizabeth Rose “Lib” Cloninger (1925-2006). Sara is survived by her four children and their spouses: Doug and Kay, Candice and Marlin, Cindy, and Roxy and Harlan; seven grandchildren; and thirteen great-grandchildren.

Sara’s ashes will be interred with those of her husband Don at the Black Hills National Cemetery, on March 15, 2024 at 1:00 pm. and scattered at the gravesite of close family friends at the nearby Keystone Cemetery in sight of Mount Rushmore.


15 Mar

Funeral Service

01:00 PM

Black Hills National Cemetery Sturgis, SD Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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  • 04/08/2024

    Candy, Cindy & Roxy, Sorry to hear of your sweet momma's passing. Have fun memories of her, when we all hung out long long ago! Prayers & thoughts for you all. Judy Juchemich Welte - Posted by Judy (Juchemich)Welte on March 26, 2024

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