Reverend Thomas Franklin Parsons, 81, of Lake Luzerne, New York, passed away peacefully Tuesday morning, February 22, 2022, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Born on March 18, 1940, in Iowa City, Iowa, he was the son of the late Thomas M. and Mabel (Stromston) Parsons. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1959 and was honorably discharged in 1962.
He married JoEllen Albrecht on May 7, 1967, in Crescent City, IL.
Tom earned his Master of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in 1977. He served for 28 years at Rockwell Falls Presbyterian Church in Lake Luzerne. He cherished pastoring in a small town, working with young people, and being an active part of peoples’ lives from baptism to delivering prayers at graduation, conducting marriages, and celebrating lives at funerals. His Mom once asked him early in his pastoral career when he would move up to a bigger church and he told her he loved pastoring in a small community where he could know all the people and share in life’s journey. After his retirement, Tom found a home at Caldwell Presbyterian Church in Lake George, NY, where he has been an active member and was able to continue his love for ministry and supporting the community.
Tom’s desire to help others happened at home and around the world. He was a teacher and a thinker. An author and a poet. He loved others. He was a pastor, a husband, a dad, a grandfather, and a mentor. He was a tinkerer. A fixer. A creator. A builder. He loved his jokes and so did we all. He loved puzzles. If you had a problem, he was the one to go to. He’d have a wise solution. One you had never thought of. Often simple and obvious. He loved simple things. A bike ride. A paddle on the lake. A sunset. A quick nap in an old chair. A conversation with an old friend. Coffee in the morning. A cold beer after a day of work or for any reason for that matter (NA of course). He knew the word of God. He told it in a way that made sense. His sermons would weave their way around and would always find a way to circle back and apply to something in your life. Humble at heart and never wanting the last word, following his sermons he would leave the pulpit, walk to the sanctuary floor, and ask the congregation for their take, inviting everyone to be part of proclaiming God’s word for the day.
Tom loved to travel, completing most of his bucket list. During the last year he and JoEllen camped their way across the country visiting friends and family and seeing many amazing places. He also spent several memorable Disney trips with his children and grandchildren enjoying all the thrill rides but especially Avatar. He recently traveled to Europe on a bike and barge trip. During his ministry, he took a sabbatical traveling around the country on his motorcycle meeting people, experiencing the diversity of worship in small churches and in God’s amazing creation, later chronicling his trip.
Tom treasured spending time with his family, kayaking on Lake Luzerne, camping on lakes in the Adirondacks, attending hockey games, scouting events, concerts and plays. He enjoyed riding his electric bike along the river, playing tennis with friends and family, wood working, baking bread, riding motorcycles, and cross-country skiing. He found joy in playing the guitar and singing. He sang at numerous weddings and events, was a member of the church choir, the community choir, the Joyful Noise singing group and the Caldwell bell choir. Tom also had a passion for writing. He loved to write poetry and published two books, Soul Country, inspired by his motorcycle sabbatical trip and Haitian Chronicles, highlighting his love of Haiti.
Beginning in 2000, Tom and JoEllen made numerous mission trips to Haiti, founding The Haiti Mission School in 2007, and actively continue the mission work with the school to this day. They also served as Red Cross Disaster Volunteers and as members of the “NYSfits,” an ecumenical rebuilding group, responding to disasters locally in the Capital Region, in New Orleans, and all along the East Coast.
Every trait Tom had was a gift, and every gift he had will be missed.
He was predeceased by his parents and two sisters, Patricia Ann Monsanto and Susan Morningstar.
Survivors include his loving wife of 54 years, JoEllen Parsons; one daughter, Jennifer Jo (Richard) Rice of Clifton Park; one son, Stephen (Jennifer) Parsons of Glenville; five grandchildren: Dakota Rice, Rhett Parsons, Molly Rice, Blaine Parsons, and Jeremy Rice.
In keeping with Tom’s wishes, there are no calling hours scheduled.
A memorial service will be held 11 AM, June 4, 2022, at Caldwell Presbyterian Church, Lake George, NY.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be directed to:
The Haiti Mission School
P.O. Box 445
Lake Luzerne, NY 12846 or online at haitimissionschool.org.
Voice of the Children
78 Forrest Lane Rd
Chestertown, NY 12817
1812 North Detroit Street
Warsaw, IN 46580 or online at HSMSHaiti.org
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