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Thelma Parks Obituary Graphic
Santa Monica Mirror Staff
Thelma Parks Obituary Graphic

News, Obituary

30-Year Convention & Visitor's Bureau Icon Passes

Thelma Parks Remembered

Posted Jan. 20, 2011, 11:36 pm

Hannah Heineman / Mirror Contributor

Thelma Parks, who worked at the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau (SMCVB) for the last 23 years, died on Jan. 15 at St. John’s Hospital at the age of 97.

A statement from the SMCVB quotes her as once saying, “Having found myself a tourist many times, I enjoy putting the visitor first.”

A fellow CVB travel counselor, Fred Basten, told the Mirror that Parks had “a sharp mind, she was interested in everything, loved life, and had to be at every event in Santa Monica.” He also recounted how they left notes for each other at the office since they worked different shifts. Looking for her note was always one of the first things he did when he came into the office.

The Mirror also spoke with Elizabeth Wilsonhoyles, a friend of Parks and the Director of the Guest Services for the Huntley Santa Monica Beach Hotel. She always called Parks if she couldn’t answer questions from the hotel’s guests because “she would have the answer.” She also mentioned Parks walked or rode the bus everywhere and “knew the bus service like the back of her hand.”

Parks was born in Brisbane, Australia and settled with her husband Harold, (an Army Corps bombardier during WWII), in Santa Monica in 1985 to be near their daughter, Adrienne. Wilsonhoyles noted how proud she was “of her Australian affiliation but that she was also proud to be an American.”

Thelma also acted briefly as a concierge for the Huntley Santa Monica Beach Hotel and recently completed her first book about growing on the Brisbane River.

The statement from the CVB states that “in honor of Thelma’s devotion to her community to making every visitor feel welcome, [the CVB] is introducing the “Thelma Parks Customer Service Award,” recognizing local Santa Monica hospitality industry personnel who exemplify exceptional customer service and genuine spirit. Santa Monica CVB will place a plaque at the visitor information kiosk in Palisades Park that will include the names of the annual award recipients. Nominations for the Thelma Parks Customer Service award will open at the Santa Monica Tourism Summit in May 2011.”

In addition to her daughter, Adrienne Parks, Thelma is survived by her extended U.S. and Australia family, second cousins, nieces, and nephews, as well as her beloved Santa Monica Convention and Visitor Bureau and tourism industry colleagues and other Santa Monica friends.

In lieu of flowers, the Parks requested that non-taxable donations be made in her name to serve our four-legged friends: Retrievers and Friends of Southern California, Inc. PO ox 1822, Temecula, CA 92593.

For information on the memorial service, please call Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau at 310.319.6263

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Jan. 21, 2011, 12:10:07 pm

Bruce Goodwin said...

Unfortuantely I missed by 7 weeks the pleasure of meeting Thelma who was my second cousin as I will be in LA in March this year. However, the stories I have heard over the years illustrated her lovely nature and service to the community. Rest in peace.

Jan. 21, 2011, 1:16:42 pm

Malcolm "toby" Arnold said...

Thelma "Thellie" Parks was not your regular senior citizen - she excelled at life. Search "The Bridal Train" sung by The Waifs - this song will always remind me of Thellie. Thellie babysat my Mother (dec)

Jan. 21, 2011, 4:03:02 pm

Alan Arnold said...

Thelma's (Thellie) visits to Australia were events we all looked forward to, she was a very special person to us- such energy. Like Toby said Thellie babysat our Mother (dec) She is on a new adventure!!!

Jan. 21, 2011, 4:21:04 pm

Pamela Blume said...

On behalf of all of Thelma Parks Australian family,('Aunty Thellie) to us all here , we would like to acknowledge Thelma's friends, work colleagues and associates who cared so deeply for her and keep an eye out for her, and who made her 'Aussie family members' feel so welcome when visiting Santa Monica, and particularly the Santa Monica Convention and Visitor Centre staff. Although the ocean separates us all we all were kindred spirits with her throughout all our lives and her love for us all always radiated across the miles. We will miss the opportunity to telephone her and keep up with her news, and her passing has left us all with great sadness in our hearts Pamela Blume (Thelma's neice).

Jan. 22, 2011, 12:51:39 am

Patsy parks Murphy said...

from a far off cousin, a beautiful tribute to a outstanding woman. and mother from all the comments Thelma was truly loved, Adrienne, thank you for sharing your loss with me, it surely is a big emptiness to say goodbye to our mom's,

Jan. 22, 2011, 8:37:46 am

Joy aroff said...

Thelma was one "helluva" woman. A very special lady.....even more so now that I know how old she was. Incredibly articulate, interested in everything and someone I always wanted to hug. She had this remarkable skin, warm smile, toasted with a can of her favorite beer Heinekin. As manager of our building I miss her already. She added something to our lives.

Jan. 24, 2011, 4:32:51 am

Megan Lamb said...

I had the privilege of working with Thelma for a year at the Santa Monica CVB, and am so saddened to hear of her passing. The CVB, Santa Monica, and indeed the world will not quite be the same. My condolences and best wishes to her family and friends.

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