Impressive Services and Heartfelt Tributes Paid The Memory of a Sterling Citizen—Biographical Sketch of One Who, Though With Few Opportunities, Arose to Eminence by His Own Efforts, Setting a Splendid Example.
Funeral services for the late Dr. W. B. Parkinson were held in the Tabernacle yesterday afternoon. There was a great attendance including a large number of old friends and associates, and former patients who owed him a debt of gratitude. The floral emblems were magnificent and most numerous. Every part of the valley was represented in the congregation. The presidencies of both the Logan and Cache stakes, and the higher priesthood occupied the stand, and there was a large attendance of members of the Chamber of Commerce. The pallbearers were: Messrs. Joseph Odell, I. S. Smith, Jesse Earl, D. H. Thomas, S. E. Mitton and S. B. Thatcher.
Services began by the choir singing "Tho’ deep’ning Trials." The invocation was offered by Elder John H. Anderson. Miss Thomas sang "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere," with chorus by the choir.
Dr. E. P. Oldham deemed it a distinction and privilege to speak at the funeral of his friend and brother. He hoped it might be his lot to say something that might help to comfort the family. The doctor repeated a piece of poetry descriptive of the influence of good association, and hoped to be able to express some of the inspiration he had received from his association with the departed. As accompanying the rain comes the rainbow of promise, and behind the dark cloud shines the star of hope, so may the family behold the glory awaiting their loved one and be comforted. The speaker had been acquainted with the deceased for thirty years, and this association had been a continuous influence for good in his life. Doctor Oldham told of the eloquence of the departed in the expression of the inspiring thoughts with which his mind was filled. He felt that in the Doctor’s last moments, as he closed his eyes upon this world, that his spiritual eyes had opened upon the glories of the sphere to which he was departing. Doctor Parkinson carried with him a great psychological influence for good, which he exercised for the benefit of all with whom he was brought into contact, passing on to them treasures from his well stored mind. Dr. Oldham described the Doctor’s last illness, its cause, and the patience with which he bore it. The speaker also paid tribute to Mrs. Parkinson who had so faithfully waited upon her husband, and to the family, for whom he desired the consolation that comes from above.
Miss Nora Eliason sang a solo, accompanied by Miss Jennie Hansen on the cello, and her mother, Mrs. Jennie Eliason Hansen on the piano.
Elder N. W. Kimball considered the great congregation a splendid tribute to the departed, with whom he had been acquainted for many years. For the past thirty years he had been the speaker’s family physician. He considered the Doctor one of the finest characters of his time. He had been a great doctor, his delight being to aid the sick and comfort the distressed. He had been with the Doctor at the bedside of pain, and had witnessed his great faith in administration. Indeed, skilled as he was, he still placed more faith in the Almighty and his promises to the faithful. The speaker called attention to the Doctor’s splendid family, whom he asked to remember their father’s loving counsel, and asked the Lord to bless Doctor Parkinson’s memory to our good, and to bless his family.
Mrs. L. Linnartz played a violin solo to piano accompaniment by Mrs. Harry Stoney.
President J. E. Cardon felt this to be an occasion that will long be remembered in this community. He felt that all in this great congregation were truly friends of Doctor Parkinson and sympathizers with his splendid family. President Cardon read a letter written the family from Apostle Melvin Ballard, who, for the reason that he would be attending a double funeral of two of our country’s defenders who had died in France, would be unable, much as he desired to be present. The letter paid a rich tribute to Doctor Parkinson as physician, as one filled with faith in the Almighty and his promises, and praised him for his charity. He had gone to his sure reward, well earned by his deeds in the flesh, and the splendid influence he exerted in the wide circle in which he exercised it. The letter invoked the blessing of the Lord on his family.
The speaker added his tribute to the Doctor’s character as he had observed it during the past twenty-five years of his acquaintance. The Doctor had visited his home in sickness and in health. He had never known a better man, a more skilled physician or surgeon, or one who had greater faith in administering to the sick and relying upon the promise of the Lord to the faithful. He felt that had the Doctor known that going to administer to those ill of the influenza would have caused his death, still he would have gone. He felt that in some cases, as in this one, death is the greatest blessing that comes to the worn out body; and when it comes to those whose lives have been worn out in the service of others, it is doubly blessed, taking the departed to spheres of future usefulness, relieved of the burdens of the flesh. Doctor Parkinson has gone to take up this work, as it had been revealed to the Prophet Joseph; more particularly in preaching the gospel to those in the spirit world, bringing salvation to millions of spirits whose lot would otherwise have been hopeless. That splendid mind and faith have gone hence to carry on this noble work. The young should be taught that death, when it comes as a release, is not a curse, but a blessing. May we all remember the great beneficent spirit and help that the departed one had brought into their homes.
Bishop William Worley extended thanks in behalf of the family to all who had been kind to them in their great grief.
The choir sang, "The Lord Is My Shepherd." Benediction was pronounced by President Joseph Quinney.
At the cemetery Elder John E. Carlisle dedicated the last resting place of this great and good man and servant of God.
Doctor William Brigham Parkinson was the son of John and Mary Woffenden Parkinson and was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, April 4, 1852. His father was an architect and builder. When Dr. Parkinson was but three years of age the family emigrated to the United States, crossing the ocean on the "Tuscarora." Two years later, following the birth in St. Louis of a baby sister, his mother died. Just how the doctor and his father reached the Northwest we have not learned; but the father, who had married again, died on the Malheur river, Oregon, when the doctor was but ten years of age. After suffering much abuse from his stepmother the lad ran away from home. The same year he was adopted by John W. Chapman of Helena, Montana, who cared for and partially educated him until he was fifteen years of age, and thereafter he became the architect of his own fortunes and destiny. How well he succeeded is attested by his achievements and excellent reputation as a physician, as husband, father, citizen and member of the church.
His personal life history may be said to have begun in 1868, when, at the age of sixteen years, he came to Utah and in the following year entered the employ of the Union Pacific railway, but just completed, in the company’s office at Morgan, where he served as night operator and train dispatcher. Here he engaged actively in church work and became Bishop of the ward. Later he moved to Franklin, then considered a part of Utah, where he became a High Priest and served as President of the Y.M.M.I.A. In the years 1877–1880 he filled a European mission with honor and success.
The doctor did not confine his activities to the mere performance of the duties of his office, but in addition was an earnest student; mastering the Pittman system of stenography, and laying the foundation of his future medical studies, which began to assume definite form when he began the active study of medicine under Dr. F. S. Kohler. His habits of industry and thrift finally enabled him to take the regular course at Rush Medical College, Chicago, and frequent post-graduate courses, including one in Berlin, kept him well to the fore in his profession. He was eminently successful in typhoid and obstetrical cases, and of late years specialized in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat, which did not take him abroad so much.
He first practiced in Morgan, but came to Cache in September, 1885 and to Logan in 1892; since which time his name has been a household word, his extensive practice covering the valley and continuing until a year ago, when, enfeebled by an attack of influenza, he was stricken by the ailment which terminated his life. Incidentally it may be remarked that during the prevalence of the polygamous raids in Utah, he established a successful practice during the years 1886–1887, and 1888, at Pilot Rock, Oregon. For the Doctor following the tenets of his religion, before the issuance of the manifesto, had married four wives. His first married, in 1873, Miss Elizabeth Bull, daughter of Daniel Bull, a prominent Utah pioneer, whose surviving children are: Dr. W. B. Parkinson Jr., Mrs. George Leishman, Mrs. Ada England, Miss Elizabeth Parkinson, Mrs. John A. Nielsen and Mrs. A. E. Jennens.
Two years later he married Miss Clarissa Taggart of Morgan, deceased, whose children are Dr. G. T. Parkinson of Rexburg, Ida., Mrs. Alma Johnson of Logan, Mrs. Frank A. McAlister of Cornish. Another daughter, Mrs. Grover C. Dunford, died less than two years ago.
On Jan. 27, 1886 he married Miss Edith Benson, daughter of Apostle Ezra T. Benson. The family consists of Dr. Fred B., the optometrist; Miss Veda, John B., who served as a Lieutenant during the war—E. Benson, deceased—Mrs. B. R. Parkinson of Franklin; Wallace B., Don B., and Miss Edith Parkinson, still living at home.
His fourth wife was Miss Margaret Sloan, deceased, whose only surviving child is Mrs. A. R. Rallison of Whitney, Idaho. Two children preceded her to the beyond.
It is a tribute to Dr. Parkinson’s ability that he was able to support and educate so numerous a family; but he succeeded admirably and raised them to be reputable citizens and members of his church. And in raising this family he developed the highest and best traits of a husband and father.
A graduate of the Rush and Louisville schools of medicine, with post-graduate courses and clinics in Berlin, Germany, a participant in the medical and surgical practice of Great Britain, the Doctor kept in the van of his profession, and loved his art. Not so much for its monetary rewards, either, as for the opportunities it afforded for helping humanity; for the doctor, although a surgeon, was not a Shylock to demand his pound of flesh from nearest the heart. No major operation had to await the raising of the fee before it was performed, nor in his little private hospital were patients denied until the fee was forthcoming. The family home never had to be mortgaged to guarantee his fee, for the Doctor had a heart that beat for humanity.
True and tried in every phase of his varied career, he has gone to his sure reward. Peace to his ashes.
* This article was reproduced by David P. Parkinson (Doctor Parkinson’s grandson) on 2 June 1962 from the original newspaper clipping. It is hoped that preserving this account will aid this great man’s descendants to better know and appreciate his life of devotion to his fellowmen. [Electronic transcription by Benson Y. Parkinson, May 2002.]