Reverend Ralyn Clayton Parkhill
September 9, 1922 thru August 21, 2013
Athens, LA: Ralyn was born on September 9, 1922 in Beaumont, Texas to Metta Mae Thomas and Lawrence Lee Parkhill. Ralyn was a Veteran of WW II, serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) . In the book, "NIGHTFIGHTER Radar Intercept Killer" by Mark A. Magruder, the son of WW II Col. "Black Mac" Magruder, USMC, Mark relates stories of this period of life, as Ralyn flew Hellcats at night, fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. Captain Parkhill received many ribbons and medals, such as, The Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Air Medal 4 times, Pacific Theatre, Presidential Unit Citation to name a few, for Ralyn's service to his Country.
Ralyn was a graduate of Beaumont High School, Lamar University, Texas A & M University, Austin Theological Seminary. During seminary, Ralyn flew fellow student Preachers from Austin to Monroe, in what was called "The Gospel Airlift." The students were met there with cars to take them to preaching points all over North Louisiana, where the next day they would all meet up again and return to Austin. Once on a return flight to Austin, Ralyn flew in real low, closely buzzing The UT Clock Tower. The Dean just happened to be looking out the window and saw his little stunt, but Ralyn survived to fly again. Before seminary, Ralyn graduated from A & M, with a degree in Forestry and Range Management, then moved to San Saba, Texas where he worked for The Texas Soil Conservation. After visiting several churches close by, Ralyn, a former Baptist, settled in a small Presbyterian Church because he was impressed by the minister, Dr. Hardy. Ralyn thought his job in the church was just to raise and lower the windows, but God had another idea. One evening after closing the windows, he asked Dr. Hardy, "where does a fellow get an education like yours" and Dr. Hardy replied," You have to go to seminary for that, when you are ready, let me know and I will take you." So, in the fall of that year Ralyn quit his job with the Soil Conservation Service and left for Austin, Texas wearing his Navy white uniform pants, a shirt & tie, his Stetson, and a pair of Cowboy boots. From that day forward, they all called him Cowboy.
After seminary, Ralyn preached at a number of small churches in Texas and Arkansas before being called one day by The Presbytery of The Pines to come look at some property North of Minden in a place called Evergreen. Someone had given many acres of land to be developed into a school for mentally challenged children. Ralyn had all the background they were looking for, and this truly became his dream. After clearing the property, dormitories were built, a gym, kitchen, lunchroom, church, barns for the horses and cattle, and all the out buildings for a full Dairy Farm. Soon they had students and teachers. Ralyn served the Lord there for 15 years while raising his family, both at Evergreen and Minden. Ralyn went on to become director of an Indian School for wayward children in Hugo, Oklahoma.
In 1980, Ralyn was again called to preach at a country church in Athens, Louisiana, where he had preached many times, while at Evergreen and Hugo. For the past 30 plus years Ralyn and his wife, Margaret Ann have made their home in Athens, during which time Ralyn earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Dubuque University of Iowa. For a major part of this time, Dr. Parkhill also preached in Haynesville every Sunday for a large part of this time until he was 68 years old, traveling the distance between the two places on a motorcycle with his black suit coat flapping in the wind, and Bible strapped on the back. The motorcycle wore out, but Ralyn kept on preaching until he was 84, rotating Sundays with his dear friend Walter C. Easton. No doubt Claiborne Parish, Louisiana was the place our good Lord wanted Ralyn to call home. Ralyn has now moved on to his heavenly home, where he awaits the rest of us, whom he loved and called friends and family.
Preceding Dr. Parkhill in death are his parents: Metta Mae Thomas and Lawrence Lee Parkhill; brother, Harris Parkhill; mother-in-law, Vidal Carlisle Horton; his first wife and mother of his children, Nadine Parkhill-Langford; step-daughter, Amy Katherine McCowen Lietz; sister-in-law, Carolyn Horton McCowen Coon; and first cousins, Dr. Ken and Happy Parkhill.
Survivors are his wife of over 30 years, Margaret Ann Horton McCowen Parkhill; 3 sons, Kyle Parkhill and wife Debra, Clement A. Parkhill and wife Pam; R.C. Parkhill II and wife Joy; 1 daughter, Leslie Lane Parkhill-Clark and husband Lane; 2 stepsons, John J. McCowen III and wife Ann Marie, Daniel H. McCowen and wife Lisa, stepdaughter, Margaret Elizabeth " Meg" McCowen Gurner; 2 sisters-in-law, Jean Parkhill, Rita B. Horton; 2 brothers-in-law, Ray Horton, Wayne Coon; first cousin Janis Parkhill Stansell; 21 grandchildren, 10 great grands, and many nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers will be: Brad Holloway, Ray Horton Jr., Bret McCowen, John McCowen IV, Kyle Ralyn Parkhill, Ralyn C. Parkhill III, Rance Ratcliff, and Mitchell Marsalis.
Honorary pallbearers are: Bill Bailey, Harry Gandy, Richard Gandy, Roland Liles, Dennis Marsalis, Jimmy Marsalis, Lovic Marsalis, David A. Pate, John Reynolds, Freddy Studdard, Larry Wallace, and Finas Zappa.
A visitation will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 24th at The Presbyterian Church, Hwy 9, Athens, La., and a celebration of life service at the church at 11:00 a.m., with Reverand John McClelland. Graveside will follow down from the church at Salem Cemetery on Hwy 9, Athens, La.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Athens, P.O. Box 24, 71003, and Evergreen Presbyterian Ministries, 2101 Hwy 80, Haughton, La. 71037.
A very special thank you for all health professionals with Regional Hospice, Presbyterian Village of Homer, Homer Hospital, and dear friends and family for everyone's love and support.
Published in Shreveport Times on Aug. 23, 2013
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