Leon Parnell, age 92, passed into glory on November 21, 2019 to spend eternity with God. He joined the absolute love of his life, his wife of 65 years, Helen Ross Parnell, who preceded him in death on February 2, 2019. He never wanted to be far from her side.
Leon was born March 20, 1927 in Tibbie, Alabama where he spent his lifetime. He was the eldest child of Rhett and Norman Parnell. He was a dedicated son, visiting them almost daily, even while he was busy with a job and raising his family.
He spent 2 years serving our country in the army, then worked at Brookley Airfield in Mobile repairing airplanes, until their closure in 1965. He declined their offer of a transfer out of state, preferring to stay home, and accepted a job at Ciba Geigy as an instrument mechanic until his retirement in 1991. He made lifetime friendships at each of these jobs. One of his bosses wrote that “you brought common sense, kindness, and laughter to all of us that worked with you at Ciba” and had “left us with many fond memories.” Leon enjoyed the many hours he spent making his yard into a beautiful place, planting grass, pear trees, pecan trees, pine trees, and flowering shrubs, among other things. People often commented on his beautiful yard, clover field, and vegetable garden he would plant every year. He shared his bounty with friends and strangers alike, (who would stop by after seeing his garden, and ask to purchase some). He always picked it for them and gave it to them as a gift. One of his favorite pastimes was going fishing, from Turkey Creek to Three River Lake, and any other good fishing hole he could get to.
He was well loved and well known for his compassion for others and his willingness to help those in need. He also loved to make people laugh and was infamous for doing so. One friend said, “If Leon didn’t make you laugh, you didn’t have a laugh in you.” He was a man of integrity and faith. He was a wonderful provider, advice giver, encourager, and an example of hard work and Godly living. The highlight of his days throughout the years was the visits of family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and visits from his friends and extended family, many of whom called him PawPaw also. Helen said he never hesitated to care for the children when they were sick, rocking and caring for them, and staying up all night if needed, to give her a rest.
He accepted Jesus as his Lord when his children were young, becoming a faithful member of Tibbie Baptist Church. For many years he served as a deacon, was faithful in his tithing and special offerings, and in assisting the elderly members however he could. He became a member of Howardtown Baptist Church in later years and served there faithfully until becoming homebound.
Leon was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, a sister, Joan Parnell Copeland, sisters-in-law Bonnie Parnell, Margaret Parnell, Louise Ross Williams, and Mary Ross Benton, brothers-in-law Elvin Ross, Frank Ross and Jackie Cooper, and a nephew, James Copeland. He is survived by his children, Gordon Leon Parnell and Lynn of Tibbie, Debbie Castelin and Steve of Panama City, FL, Sandra Brown and Dean of Tibbie, “adopted” daughter and family, Tiina Mikkola of Halikko, Finland; grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Josh(Melissa) and Ragan Parnell; Joseph Parnell and Harper Parnell; Daniel Castelin and Alex Castelin, and James Slade Briscoe; Christina (Joel) McKay, Connor and Jacob McKay; Tell (Beth) and Gaby, Heidi, Trent, Daci, Eli, Corrie, and Avery Brown; Zeb Brown; Nina (Aaron) Richardson and Riley, Nora, and Emma Richardson; and Ira (Kayse) and Johnie, Maggie, and Helen Brown.