Max H Parkin, our dear father, 91, passed March 23, 2022, in Salt Lake City of causes incident to age. He was born in Sandy, Utah, July 22, 1930, at his aunt’s house during his mother’s visit there. As a Great Depression family, his parents had no funds to pay the doctor, so out of respect they named Baby Max after him. His father, Kimball Mann Parkin, and mother, Florence Hatch, both grandchildren of Bountiful’s first pioneers, were parents of seven sons-Max was the sixth. Raised in Bountiful in an agricultural setting, Max saved enough as a hired farm boy with his older brother George to pay for his own clothes and other personal expenses including those for junior and senior high school. After graduating from Davis High School in 1948, he’d saved enough from his farm jobs for his first year at BYU. Dad had been well schooled in the principles of self-reliance, which he passed on to us kids as well.
Following that year at BYU, at age 18, he flew in a freight airplane to the frontier of Anchorage, Alaska, to work for six months in building construction at an air base to help pay for college and his future LDS Hawaii Mission. His father died while he and younger brother Bruce were serving their missions. After his mission, he entered the University of Utah, joined the Delta Phi fraternity, and enrolled in the Air Force ROTC to study navigation. His five older brothers had served in World War II, and his father, a Navy employee, was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, during the enemy bombing where he survived a Japanese pilot firing at him whose tracer shell passed through his trouser leg. Because the tragedy of the war had cut deeply into the family, Max’s Gold Star mother wanted Max to earn a military commission to better prepare him for service in the Korean War, then underway. However, after two years of training in ROTC, his military physical at Ft. Douglas diagnosed him with sufficient color blindness to keep him from navigation school and a commission in the Air Force.
Meanwhile in 1954, he married Yvonne Hobberstad of Inglewood, California, in the Salt Lake Temple following her conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at BYU where they met. Yvonne’s mother, a nonmember, came to Salt Lake and sat on Temple Square to gain comfort while contemplating the ceremony being performed by Elder Richard L. Evans, whose “Spoken Word” she had often listened to on the radio in her home in Inglewood.
Max and Yvonne have five children: Bradford (Heidi), Kevin, Steven, Christine, and Julie. With the ups and downs of a vigorous family life, Dad was especially proud of us kids: the three boys for their church missions and all of us for graduating from college, especially also our mother, who returned to college at age thirty-five, and with considerable family support after three years of studying, graduated from BYU with a B.A. degree and a teaching certificate.
After graduating from the University of Utah in marketing and economics, Dad was employed by Western Airlines at the old Salt Lake City Airport, which he considered for his life’s career. However, after Dad served for nearly three years at Western, the dean of religious instruction at BYU, Dr. West Belnap, who had baptized our mother, invited Dad to teach in the Church’s educational system. Then after eleven years of teaching seminary in Idaho and Utah and acquiring teaching certificates in both states, he taught at the Salt Lake LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah for 27 years. He was fond of teaching his wonderful students as was our mother teaching hers. Dad and Mom used to engage in friendly banter as to who had the happier teaching job-he at the U. of U. Institute of Religion or she at Woodstock Elementary in South Cottonwood where she taught for 27 years. After retiring, dad continued as a volunteer at the Institute of Religion, teaching altogether for fifty years.
Dad loved his scholastic training in graduate school at BYU where he found such a treasure trove of knowledge, as he said, in religious philosophy and in LDS and Christian history from such legendary scholars as Truman Madsen, Hugh Nibley, Richard Bushman, the gifted Sidney Sperry and especially the deft and insightful Milton Backman, who advised him through his masters and PhD programs. His master’s thesis, “Conflict at Kirtland,” was published by the Church for its seminary and institute libraries. He also published in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and co-authored Sacred Places, Missouri, a Mormon history and sites book, which President Thomas S. Monson had placed in the cornerstone of the Kansas City Missouri Temple. Besides other writings, he co-edited four volumes of The Joseph Smith Papers, working principally as a team with his esteemed colleague, BYU professor Dr. Alex Baugh. Dad was a long-time member of the Mormon History Association and the Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation. As a member of the latter in Independence, Missouri, in the Mound Grove Cemetery, he delivered the dedicatory address at the monument ceremony honoring the thirteen cholera victims of Zions Camp of 1834 after the bones of three victims had been kicked loose from the bank of a dry stream bed in a farmer’s feed lot near Liberty, Clay County, and verified by historians and scientists at the University of Missouri and taken to Independence-their original destination-for burial.
Except for much hitchhiking to work and to school, he did little traveling because his parents did not own an automobile. However, in his youth, while reading adventure travel books and collecting old maps, distant places always beckoned him. Eventually, Dad and Mom traveled widely often with us kids, visiting all fifty states, and Dad visited thirty-five foreign countries. Among his trips were Guatemala and southern Mexico with the eminent BYU Book of Mormon scholar John Sorenson; to Athens and Jerusalem with his young son Kevin; to Beijing and Hong Kong with his son Steven; to Venice, Rome and the Vatican with his daughter Julie and her husband, again to the Holy Land with our mother and to the ports of the six countries bordering Europe’s North Sea with his sons Bradford and Steven when he served as the ship’s ecclesiastical president and lecturer on the Swan, one of the eight tall sailing ships of “Sea Trek,” honoring Nineteenth Century Mormon immigrants to America including his own pioneer ancestors to Bountiful, as well as his earlier ancestors on the Mayflower. After a Mormon history convention in Copenhagen, he also traveled to Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Moscow with his friend and fellow historian Dean Jessee. These adventures helped Dad fulfill his youthful travel dreams.
He served in church assignments as bishop, high councilor, high priest group leader, as one of the stake presidents of the former Seventy, when he served two additional missions. He cherished his Savior Jesus Christ and loved the Church which meant so much to him. He was exemplary to us children and our dear mother, his sweetheart of 68 years, who were his great treasures, as he told us. He believed that the most important things in life are values and wholesome relationships. He is survived by his wife and their five children, six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and younger brother Bruce.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 2, at 12:00 noon at the Chevy Chase chapel, 5235 South Wesley Road, Murray, Utah. Viewing will be Friday, April 1 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. at the same location. Interment will be in the Bountiful City Cemetery.
Services will be streamed live on Russon Mortuary & Crematory Facebook page and on this obituary page. The live stream will begin about 10-15 minutes prior to the service and will be posted below.