Ross Parkes: A shining light in South Canterbury’s community
Former Timaru dentist and Otago rugby player William Ross Parkes has been remembered as someone who always saw the best in others.
Parkes died peacefully surrounded by family in Dunedin on September 11, aged 84.
Former fellow Otago rugby player, dental practice partner and longtime friend Nevis Jones described Parkes as ‘‘nonjudgmental’’.
Parkes and Jones met when they were both studying dentistry at Otago University in the mid1950s and played for the Otago rugby team.
Parkes also met his future wife, Win, at the university when she was studying to be a PE teacher, they married a few years later and went on to have three children who all qualified as medical doctors.
Parkes was a flanker when the Otago team won the Ranfurly Shield against Wellington in 1957.
His love of rugby never diminished, and he went on to coach for Old Boys, after moving to Timaru to work with Jones in a dental practice in 1964. The original dental practice was located where the Farmers carpark is now.
The practice expanded to include Gerald Byrne, and Ian O’Loughlin who specialised in oral surgery.
They moved into The Silver Birches Dental Centre on Sophia St and Parkes spent a year at Glasgow University in Scotland becoming a specialist in orthodontics. Then Mark Easton and his wife Chris Holloway (paediatrics) joined the team.
‘‘Ross was proud of our practice for being a team effort that covered all forms of dentistry under one roof, and was an asset for Timaru,’’ Jones said.
Growing up in Dannevirke, Parkes was active in sport and school productions, and in Timaru appeared in South Canterbury Drama League productions including South Pacific, West Side Story and Les Miserables.
He loved golf and Jones has fond memories of the fun they had on golf trips with friends.
‘‘Too much theory ruined what was once a good stroke,’’ Jones joked. In later years, Parkes enjoyed playing golf with long-term friends Wynne Raymond, John
Doran and Ken Munro, and appreciated the range of friendships he made in Timaru through Toastmasters, the Timaru Golf Club, South Canterbury Club and other interests.
Parkes was a key member of the Timaru Top Town team that won the national competition twice in the late 1970s. He was also an active poker player at the South Canterbury Club on Thursday nights and was part of the group which established the Aorangi Sports Stadium and developed the playing fields at Aorangi Park.
He made many contributions to the Timaru community in addition to his sporting interests.
These include his role in the formation of the South Canterbury Community College (later, Aoraki Polytechnic and then Ara); as a member of the South Canterbury Museum Development Trust; as a volunteer at the South Canterbury Hospice and Timaru Civil Defence; and as a senior staff member providing orthodontic care at Timaru Hospital.
Beyond Timaru, Parkes will be remembered by family, friends and colleagues who benefitted from his enthusiasm and warm-hearted spirit, including those he travelled with to Europe for the international Scout Jamboree in 1951.
Parkes is survived by Win Parkes and their three children Karen, Derek and Margot, and two grandchildren Josephine and Angus.
‘‘Ross was proud of our practice for being a team effort that covered all forms of dentistry under one roof, and was an asset for Timaru.’’ Nevis Jones
Former Otago rugby players Ross Parkes, left, and Nevis Jones celebrate the Otago Ranfurly Shield win in 2013.