Olivet Nazarene University faculty, staff and alumni have lost a dedicated servant. Wendell “Wendy” Parsons ’56 passed away on February 19, 2017, after battling cancer. He will long be remembered by many students and athletes as a caring coach and encourager.
Wendy’s love for young people was the foundation of his career. For 27 years, he served as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator in the Sterling, Illinois, area. For more than 20 years, he and his family attended the Sterling First Church of the Nazarene, where he worked with the youth. He also directed the Nazarene Youth Camp in Manville, Illinois, during many summers.
“When you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem like work,” he often said.
In 1985, Wendy began a 15-year tenure as director of intramurals and retention at Olivet. His dedicated service and boundless enthusiasm impacted the lives of thousands of Olivet students.
Matt Smith ’00, Olivet’s director of recreation services, was one of those students who benefited from knowing Wendy. Matt credits Wendy’s work as the foundation of what is now an expansive recreation program on Olivet’s campus.
“Wendy was so full of life,” Matt recalls. “I often told folks he had more energy and passion in his pinky finger than I would ever have. His love for Olivet was evident in every conversation we had. He gave all of himself to his work so that each student’s experience would be top-notch. Wendy’s example is one I strive to follow, and I hope to have an impact on students just like he did.”
For many years, the Wendy Parsons 5K Run was part of the University’s Homecoming celebration. At age 60, Wendy ran in the Chicago Marathon with his two sons.
“You didn't have to spend much time with Wendy to know what was most important to him,”says Dr. Woody Webb ’86/’88 M.A. “Above all else, he loved Jesus and he loved his family.”
Even after retirement, Wendy continued to promote Olivet to prospective students from his hometown. Several students have attended ONU as a direct result of his remarkable influence. He was part of the Church of the Nazarene’s Regional Celebrate Life for 30 years.
“Like so many other Olivet alumni and friends, I'm a better person for having known Wendy Parsons,” Dr. Webb adds. “The ripple of his influence is seen in the lives of students scattered around the world. He modeled and inspired Kingdom values.”
Wendy is survived by his wife, Betty Lou (Botner) ’56; two sons, Michael ’82 and Monte ’86; one daughter, Wendy Jo Melton ’89; one sister; six grandchildren; and one great grandchild; plus many cousins, nieces and nephews. Click here
for Wendy’s complete obituary and information about visitation and services.