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It is with great sadness that her family announces the passing of Iona Schmidt Parrish, age 98, on July 17, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona.
She was born to Russell and Orra Davidson on October 25, 1924 on the Davidson family farm near Lind in Waupaca County, Wisconsin. Iona attended Maple Lane Grade School and Waupaca High School. After graduation, she enrolled in Waushara Normal School, attaining her teaching certificate.
Her first job brought her to Spring School in 1943, a one-room schoolhouse on Hwy. 28 in the Town of Wayne, where she taught for 2 years. While attending a dance at the Lighthouse near West Bend, she met Lloyd Schmidt, a handsome young man in a dark green sweater. They would marry on June 5, 1945 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wautoma, WI.
Iona and Lloyd would purchase the Schmidt family dairy farm on Hwy. B and go on to raise 7 children in a loving and caring home. After her children were in school, Iona would return to teaching, attending summer school at the University of Oshkosh and awarded her Bachelor degree in Elementary Education in 1971.
For over 20 years, she would put that training to use teaching hundreds of students at Elmwood School, a one room schoolhouse in Jackson, and kindergarten in Campbellsport, Kewaskum, and Wayne. Iona loved teaching kindergarten, because “children are so eager to learn”, and she provided a strong foundation for her students’ future success in education and life. Meeting past students around town, she could remember their names and would always tell them how proud she was of their accomplishments. Every student could recount the joy they had in her class, especially the circus, put on every year for their parents, and where each child could choose their act. Many of her previous students would request Mrs. Schmidt when their own children went to kindergarten, ensuring they enjoyed the same enriching and positive school experience.
Iona happily retired from teaching in 1984. When Lloyd retired from farming, they finally had a chance to travel, making road trips to visit their children, family and friends around the country. As education was so important to Iona, they were able to attend the high school graduation of almost all of their grandchildren.
Cruising Alaska with her brother Arlen and Yvonne Davidson was a highlight of their travels, as was the road trip through Canada with Arlo and Joy Markested, her daughter Barbara’s parents-in-law. Iona also enjoyed vacations with her daughter Mary to Hawaii and St. Maarten and many winter escapes to Arizona and Florida.
In addition to teaching, Iona was the Kewaskum school board clerk and a longtime member of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, and later Holy Trinity Catholic Church. She volunteered at the Food Pantry, enjoyed bowling with her team at the Lighthouse Lanes, loved a good sheepshead game, was an avid Green Bay Packer and Milwaukee Brewer fan, and baked the BEST butterhorns ever!
After Lloyd passed away in 2002, Iona was fortunate to winter in Arizona and enjoy her family there. While at a dance in Glendale, she met another handsome man, Wiley Parrish, who would become her second husband on March 11, 2006. She and Wiley lived at his home in Murphysboro, Illinois and continued to winter in Arizona. They travelled the country for class reunions and Navy ship reunions, as well as a trip to Ireland, where they both kissed the Blarney Stone. They loved to dance and continued until well into their 90s.
Iona is survived by her second husband Wiley Parrish and his daughters Deanice Owens (John) and Wilene Hanna (Bob) of Murphysboro, IL; and her children: Vernon (Carolyn) of Phoenix, AZ, Milton (Jackie Rittmann) of Colonie, NY, Barbara Markestad (James) of Athens, AL, Thomas (Yolanda) of Denver, CO, Lenard of Ft. Wayne, IN, Mary (Herb Christie) of Phoenix, AZ, and Jeffrey (Jennifer) of Clearfield, UT; 16 grandchildren: Bruce (Linda), Brian (Beverly) and Brice (Leecel) Schmidt, Gustav (Erin) and Allison Schmidt, Sara Markestad, Kari (Matt) Sims and Jean (Eric) Suarez, Ericka DeJesus, James Schmidt and Mary (Tom Stauffer) Schmidt, Jon Christie, Michelle (Joe) Hall, Coryna, Abigail and Jerald Schmidt; 25 great-grandchildren: Sawyer (Hanna), Shayla (Frankie Alvarez), and Sydney Schmidt, Brianna, Brandon, Brice, Kyle and Benjamin Schmidt, Kaydance, Krisalyn, Klarah, Kevin, Katriel, Kaitlyn and Kameron Schmidt, Fallon Fay, Jacob Markestad, William Sims, Aiden and Gavin Suarez, Isiah, Neomi and Dominic DeJesus, Milani and Ayla Schmidt, and Blake Hall.
She also is survived by her cousins: Daisy Matthais, Carol Brasch, Leon (Joan) Brasch, Delmar (Ona) Schoenick, Keith (Bonnie) Schoenick, Bill Flesch; sister-in-law Doris Davidson; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her first husband Lloyd Schmidt; granddaughter Brenda Schmidt; great-grandson Skylar Schmidt; great-granddaughter Olivia Sims; her parents; brothers Justin (Aldine & Eunice), Arlen (Carolyn & Yvonne), Arden, Daryl (JoAnne) and Sidney Davidson; and sisters Verna (Claro) Hansen and Enid (Edward) Cechvala.
Iona lived a long, fulfilled life and felt blessed to have her family. In a last note, she wrote “What a loving and caring family I have. I love you all - Mom”. She will be remembered for the enduring love and commitment she gave to her family, the significant and lasting impact she had on her students, and the kindness and generosity she extended to all. May she rest in peace.
VISITATION: Iona’s family will greet relatives and friends at Holy Trinity Catholic Church (331 Main St., Kewaskum) from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
MEMORIAL MASS: Will follow the visitation at 10:00 a.m. Interment will be at St. Bridget’s Cemetery following the Mass.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Iona’s name to the Kewaskum Community Food Pantry or the Kewaskum Youth Scholarships (KEYS).
Myrhum-Patten Funeral & Cremation Service has been entrusted with Iona’s arrangements. Additional information and Tribute Wall may be found at myrhum-patten.com.
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