In Memoriam – December 2018

Parkhurst found a new life Gordy C. Parkhurst was institutionalized for years but found a new life in a Minneapolis […]

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Parkhurst found a new life

Gordy C. Parkhurst was institutionalized for years but found a new life in a Minneapolis group home after advocates worked to get him back into the community. Parkhurst, 73, died of pneumonia in November.

Born in Minneapolis, Parkhurst spent about 40 years in state institutions after commitment at age 2 ½ in 1948. Deafness from an illness wasn’t diagnosed at that time. Family members and medical professionals mistakenly believed he was developmentally disabled.

In the 1980s attorneys worked to get him released from Cambridge State Hospital. Testing confirmed that Parkhurst had normal intelligence. Deaf community members supported him, and he learned American Sign Language. He also learned of his Oneida American Indian ancestry and was accepted in that community as well, attending pow-wows and embracing his heritage.

Parkhurst loved the Minnesota Vikings, professional wrestling, kittens and coffee made to his liking. And after decades of being institutionalized and not having control over his life, Parkhurst stuck to his own schedule and rules for the rest of his life.

He is survived by friends and caregivers. Services have been held. Memorials can be made to Metro Deaf School in St. Paul.


Oden dedicated to disability community

Ross Oden maintained a strong interest in disability issues for all of his life. Oden died in November, after living for almost two years with the rare autoimmune disorder Wegner’s Granulomatosis. He was 39 and lived in St. Louis Park.

Oden was a graduate of Totino-Grace High School, where he excelled in sports. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and Hamline University School of Law.

His career path included work for Ramsey County, therapy for children with autism, and mediation. After graduation from law school he worked as a special education compliance monitor at the Department of Education for Minnesota until being hospitalized earlier his year.

Oden’s service to the disability community including serving on the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) Board. He enjoyed his family and its traditions, his faith, traveling, gardening and doing civic duties including serving as an election judge.

Oden is survived by his wife Jane and their four children, Andrew, Leah, Emily and Matthew; his father Dale and his brother Patrick and Patrick’s family. He was preceded in death by his mother Alice, former webmaster for Access Press. Services have been held.

A Go Fund Me account has been set up for his family.


Elliot paved way for education

Carolyn Jeanne Landrud Elliott spent her career in education, with a focus on students with behavioral issues. Elliott died in November after a short battle with cancer. She was 85 and lived in Stillwater.

Elliott was encouraged to share her expertise with all of Minnesota schools by becoming the Minnesota Department of Education’s consultant for specific learning disabilities (SLD) and emotional, behavior disabilities (EBD). She also worked for the state’s Department of Children, Families and Learning.

In retirement years she served as a Washington County guardian for children and enjoyed serving as an election judge. She enjoyed reading, card games, birds, sports and travel.

She is survived by nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and many friends. Private services will be held in spring 2019. Memorials are to Lakeview Home Health Care and Hospice of Stillwater, Relay for Life of Stillwater, Bark for Life of Stillwater, or an animal charity of the donor’s choosing.


Have an obituary to share?

Access Press welcomes obituaries from Minnesota’s disability community. Information needs to be sent in within one month of a person’s death. Deadline is the 25th of each month, for publication the following month. If the 25th falls on a weekend, get things in the following Friday. Sending a link to a newspaper article or funeral home notice is acceptable, as long as there is information provided about the deceased’s role in Minnesota’s disability community. Please be as specific as possible.

Please send a photo (if one is available), as well as contact information in case the editors have any questions. Questions can be sent to the editors at [email protected]. Or call 651-644-2133 if there are additional questions.




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