Tears, smiles, hugs and a lifetime of memories were shared by the hundreds of people saying farewell to Mary Frances Park at her funeral service Wednesday afternoon at Huntsville’s First United Methodist Church.

Park, who many in the community consider one of the greatest public servants Huntsville has ever had, was laid to rest at the Mays Addition of the Oakwood Cemetery. She died Monday morning at the age of 89.

While reading Park’s eulogy, Rev. Bruce Hay said she was driven by a passion to make Huntsville a better place for all its residents.

“Her love for God, her love for her neighbors, fueled this passion,” Hay said. “Her faith in God and Jesus Christ instilled in her an extraordinary work ethic. Her life was lived with great purpose and great passion, and I feel that she brought this passion to her service.”

In addition to making Huntsville a better place, Park had a deep passion for the individual people all across the Huntsville community, Hay said. She never missed an opportunity to help someone in need.

“Mary Frances had a passion for people,” Hay said. “She cared deeply about people and the needs of people. You might ask, ‘Where does this come from?’ I believe it comes from her faith. Her faith instilled in her the responsibility to help people.”

Park, a former Huntsville ISD elementary school teacher and Sam Houston State University education professor, still kept in contact with teachers in Huntsville. Even though she was retired, she wanted to make sure teachers were doing well.

“Mary Frances was an outstanding scholar, an outstanding university professor and an outstanding teacher of teachers,” Hay said. “This was a passion in her life and I know that, because my daughter is a teacher. She teaches fourth grade and Mary Frances was so kind to her this year.”

However, Hay said, her family was always her first passion.

At Wednesday’s funeral service, Hay reminded immediate and extended family members what a deep love Park held for each and every one of them.

Through it all, the love of her life was her husband, Mance.

Especially Mance.

Hay recalled when he first arrived in Huntsville. Being a high school football fan, he was familiar with Mance, but was unfamiliar with Mance’s secret weapon: his wife.

“One day I asked her, ‘Mary Frances, how come you do everything?’ And she said, ‘When I married a football coach, I realized I was going to have to learn everything I possibly could about football.’”

“There was no doubt, Mance Park was her hero,” Hay said. “Mance Park was the great love of her life.”

Recommended for you