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Mary "Mimi" Rachel (Hanson) Parkes
November 25, 1928 ~ December 24, 2023 (age 95) 95 Years Old
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These are just a sampling of words that described Mary Rachel Hanson Parkes (aka Mimi), who peacefully passed away in her sleep while in the loving arms of family on Christmas Eve.
Mimi was brought into this world the morning of Nov. 25, 1928, in Hibbing, Minnesota, to parents Mildred Christine Soderberg Hanson and Ralph Sidney Hanson. Even at a very young age, it didn’t take too long to learn that this precocious little girl would spin the world on a dime. And that she did….
Mimi graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, majoring in Business and English. She met her future husband, Jack, while attending the University, but played hard to get. After rejecting Jack’s numerous requests to go on a date, Mimi finally joined him for a night out on the town in Duluth. Upon her return home, her parents asked how the date went and she exclaimed, “I think I’m going to marry that man!” Sure enough, she married Jack Newport Parkes shortly after on Dec. 29, 1949, amid 40 hand-chopped Christmas trees and a multitude of glowing white candles.
Mimi and Jack moved to Yellowstone Park in 1950 as Jack worked for his uncle, Charles Ashworth Hamilton, who then owned the Hamilton Stores, for several years before relocating to Billings. It was over this period of time when Chris, Susie, Libby and John came into this world — all while her career as a real estate professional took off. Over the 55 years that followed, Mimi worked for Floberg Properties and launched her own successful operation, The Parkes Company Realtors — the first woman-operated real estate agency in Montana. Mimi was the first woman to receive her full designation as a Certified Real Estate Broker and was also recognized during her career as MT Salesperson of the Year, MT REALTOR of the Year and President of the Montana Board of REALTORs. As she entered her twilight years, Mimi and her best friend, Helen Mahnke, created the “Silver Service,” providing senior citizens guidance in their real estate transactions. Throughout her stellar career that nudged up to her 90th year of life, Mimi radiated a level of confidence and competence with her clients and co-workers alike. She was known to be driven, yet compassionate. She also became quite adept at taking three parking spots when going into the office.
Often lovingly referred to as the “Born- Again Christian Dior,” her family and friends appreciated her zest for life, fondness for fashion, terrific entertaining skills, and appreciation for great storytelling. Mimi loved the adventure of joining her son John in rappelling (twice!) down First Interstate Bank for a Special Olympics Montana fundraiser in her late 80s, making headlines in the Billings Gazette as the “Gutsy Granny.” This grand dame who truly adored her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren had other loves as well: playing bridge, shopping, cigarettes, her house (hot) and her vodka martinis (cold). A voracious reader, she finished an average of three books per week. She loved her book clubs, bridge clubs and PEO Chapter AV — a women’s service organization she was a part of for over 50 years.
It gives us peace in knowing that Mimi has reunited with her husband, Jack; her daughter, Susie (Mullins); and her grandson, Timothy (Markus) in heaven. She is survived by her children, Chris Groom (Gary), Libby Markus (Jim), John Parkes (Heidi) and son-in-law, Tom Mullins. She was blessed with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Peter Parkes Russell, Tyler Mullins, Jamie Markus (Jenn), Julia Markus Lennick (Matt), Molly Markus Lammers (Dylan), Hannah Parkes Jarvis (Tyler), Rachel Parkes Fuller (Mike), Emerson Markus, Ainsley and Alivia Lennick, Parker and Hollis Lammers. She is also survived by her brother, Jim Hanson, his wife, Sandy and several nieces and nephews.
The family would like to express sincere gratitude to the staff and friends of West Park Village and Dr. Fran Argani for taking such extraordinary care of Mimi during her final years.
Please join us in celebrating Mimi’s life at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at Mayflower Church, with a light reception and sharing of stories to follow. Mimi loved shiny, silver trinkets. Please consider wearing something silver on your lapel, jacket or shirt as a way to dignify her at the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to: Mayflower Church, Special Olympics Montana and the Ronald McDonald House.
Mimi, our beloved family matriarch and friend, your positive influence has impacted us greatly.