Dr. Mary Francis Park, daughter of Charles H. Allen and Elizabeth Allen from Huntsville, was born May 2, 1916, and passed away Jan. 9, 2006, from cancer. Dr. Park was born and raised in Huntsville where she nurtured her family and served her community as both a dedicated teacher and a tireless volunteer to many people and causes.

Dr. Park graduated from Huntsville Demonstration School in 1933 and continued her education at Sam Houston State College, receiving both her Bachelor’s and her Master’s degrees. Years later she earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of Houston. After teaching elementary school between degrees for 11 years, she settled on a 25-year career as a professor of education at Sam Houston State University where she was chosen as the University’s outstanding professor in 1981. She was the first woman to be chairperson of a university athletic conference when she chaired the Lone Star Conference while at Sam Houston. Upon Dr. Park’s retirement from teaching in 1982, she was awarded the Minnie Stevens Piper Teaching Award, which she used to establish a youth scholarship endowment at Sam Houston State University and the Mance Park Athletic Scholarship at Huntsville High School.

After retiring from the teaching field, Dr. Park immersed herself in service to her community, contributing her talents and commitment to many boards, organizations, projects and people. Recently her affiliations included: Huntsville Education Board, Huntsville Rotary Club, and Huntsville Library and Cemetery Boards to mention just a few. She was a member of numerous organizations such as Delta Kappa Gamma, Phi Delta Kappa, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonies, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Colonial Dames, and the Historical Lineage Society.

Dr. Park received many awards for her public service. She was Mother of the Year for the state of Texas in 1982 and honored with the award as a Distinguished Alumni from Sam Houston State University in 1994. The Huntsville Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Park by bestowing on her the Mance Park Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. She was awarded the Community Builder Award in recognition of distinguished service and personal contributions in 2005. Mary Francis Park will be remembered for her commitment to her family, church, profession and community.

Services for Dr. Park will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Huntsville with Dr. Bruce Hay officiating. Interment will follow in the Mays Addition of Oakwood Cemetery. She will lie in state from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. The family will receive friends Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home.

Dr. Park is survived by her son, Mance Michael Park, and his wife, Carol, and their sons, Mance Allen and Paul Michael Park. She is also survived by her brother, Charles H. Allen Jr., his wife, Eloise, and their two daughters, Beth Willis and Genie Cook. Other surviving family members include first cousin Col. A.S. Kelly and his daughters, Karen Kelly and Sandy Mills, and the many cousins who joined Dr. Park in the Frasiers-Forever Family Reunion.

In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to contribute to the First United Methodist Church or the Mary Francis and Mance Park Endowment at Sam Houston State University.

Memorial condolences may be made online at www.shmfh.com.