Lance Kenneth Parks, MD

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Lance Kenneth Parks, MD

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Lance Parks

Lance passed away on Jan. 30, 2020, from pneumonia due to Influenza A infection.

This is truly a very sad time for our family as we have lost a wonderful father and grandfather, a friend and a man who lived life to the fullest.

Lance was born in Maywood, Illinois, on Dec. 13, 1942, to Lance Melvin Parks and Flora Garnet Schulz. Lance was the second eldest of seven children: four sons and three daughters. Growing up was tough and money was tight. The family endured two house fires during which the kids were sent to the neighbors or grandma’s house while his dad rebuilt the homes. Family outings on a weekend were in the old station wagon, which didn’t always make the 50-mile trip to the state park, but those were some of the best childhood memories. Lance worked during high school at the local drugstore to help his parents and family with the little money he earned.

He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in mathematics. He and his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Elizabeth, moved to Champaign, Illinois, where he completed his masters of mathematics. His goal was to get his PhD in mathematics; however, Lance wanted to be involved in the space program but at that time those positions were hard to come by even with a PhD in math. His local GP encouraged him to apply to medical school and he began his four-year course as a medical student at the University of Illinois in Chicago in 1972. Tours of duty were at Cook County hospital, Presbyterian St. Luke’s and U of Illinois Hospital. Being a medical student in downtown Chicago gave him a very interesting and sometimes shocking exposure to life as a big city doctor.

He met Sally Deupree while she was a nursing student at the University of Illinois in 1970 and she became his wife in 1973. Together, they moved to Portland, Oregon, where Lance began his internship with the goal of a family practice residency.  Three months into the family practice residency he discovered his flair for anesthesia. He then entered the anesthesia residency at OHSU in 1972. In 1975, he had the opportunity to train in open heart anesthesia, working with Dr. Albert Starr and became very competent in cardiovascular anesthesia, taking care of day-old infants with almost fatal abnormalities to elderly patients needing valve replacements or bypass grafts for heart disease.

In February of 1976, Lance received a call from a former classmate, Dr. Robert Ruble, who informed him of this incredible opportunity to build an open heart surgery program in Billings. That was a bit of a problem, as he had already accepted a fellowship in Anesthesia at Stanford University. Hunting and fishing and the wide-open spaces won him over and he chose to turn down the prestigious fellowship. In 1979, he worked with Dr. Tim Dernbach to help make the open heart surgery program in Billings the second best place in the country to have open heart surgery. During his tenure as a cardiac anesthesiologist, he developed a devotion and admiration for the veterans he had the occasion to meet, in and out of the operating room. This was a driving force for his love of country. He retired from practicing anesthesia in 2016. Lance’s latest job was to help people who wanted to legally use medical marijuana. His patients taught him a great deal and were grateful for his empathy and ability to listen.

Lance had many names: Dr. Parks, Bwana, Daddy, Pops, Dr. Elvis, among others. His great loves included his family, including his children, grandchildren and siblings; hunting all over the world; fishing trips to Canada; building a home; remodeling anything even if it was perfect to begin with; and spending his later years in the beach house in South Africa on the Indian Ocean. He and Sally met so many wonderful people halfway around the world. Lance was president of Safari Club International, Billings Chapter for two years. He hunted on almost every continent and was proud to help with anti-poaching efforts worldwide.

Lance is survived by his children, Elizabeth Dahlhoff, PhD, Lance David, Rebekah, Juliet and Alicia; Sally; his five remaining brothers and sisters; and five grandchildren, Kathleen, Victoria, Emma, Dmitri and Nixon. He is predeceased by his parents; sister Andrea; and son-in-law, Geoff Dahlhoff.

The family will have a memorial service in the late summer. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider a donation to Lance’s favorite charity, the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports and honors defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need. Please visit https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/donate/.

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12 thoughts on “Lance Kenneth Parks, MD”

  1. Sincere condolences. I really enjoyed working with Dr. Parks in surgery at St. Vincent hospital for many years.Prayers to the family.
    Misse Iverson

  2. I’m very sorry for the loss of Lance. You are all in my thoughts at this very sorrowful time. He was a great doctor and a good man. Denise DeMars

  3. Kelly Jean tierney

    My thoughts and prayers to Lance’s family. I enjoyed working with Lance and taking care of his post open heart patients for many years. All my prayers for Sally and his children during this very hard loss.

  4. Sally and Family,
    Jackie and I were saddened to hear of Lance’s passing. We have many great memories of our time as neighbors on Parkhill. He was a great guy. Please know that we have you in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless.

  5. To Sally and Family,
    I spent many hours at Dore Lake, SK fishing, visiting and just hanging out with Lance. I caught my largest walleye ever out of Lances boat. Lance wasn’t just a good guy for sharing all of his toys but just one of the boys and loved to visit about any subject under the sun. Lance was so well read and his intelligence was off the charts and his culinary shills were expert level as well. Lances also had a heart of gold and was my sons math tutor for his college freshman year calculus. Lance commented to me that,”Tommy was a work in progress” as his student. I think Lances dry humor was also off the charts! Lance was kind enough to visit my brother in law while in treatment for the same type of cancer that Lance whipped while he was being treated in Billings and assured my brother in law that he was in good hands with the same oncologist as he had. This is very touching to me since I never expected Lance to volunteer his time to help someone in need of a pep talk at this time in their life. What a great man and a great friend he was to all of us. My prayers are with family at this time. RIP Dr. Parks… 🙏🙏

  6. Kris Spanjian and Ray Gilbertson

    Sally and family – so sorry to hear of Lance’s passing. He was a loyal colleague and friend who was always ready to help others. A huge force and personality in the St. V’s community. My heart goes out to you all.

  7. Sally and family,
    So sorry to learn of Lance’s passing.
    Working with Lance was always a pleasure…..and interesting.

  8. Lynne Buckie Baker

    I knew Lance for 70 years, as we were classmates at St. Mary’s School in McHenry, IL, all the way through high school. We reconnected at our 50th class reunion in 2010 and Lance invited me and other fortunate classmates to MT for the solar eclipse in August 2017. Several of us spent time together at a mini-reunion in La Quinta in February of 2018 and, in fact, Lance was going to join us again this January when he became ill and had to fly home to Billings instead. He was looking forward to our 60th reunion in McHenry in October 2020. I am so happy we had great times together recently remembering great times when we were young but it was such a shock to hear of his death and he will be greatly missed. What a life he led – “small town boy makes good,” for sure!

  9. Virginia Niles

    So very sorry to read this morning of your loss Sally. My condolences and prayers to you and your family.

  10. So veru sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Lance Parks. I became acquainted with him at the YMCA. He was a weight lifter and frequented the weight room about the time I worked out. He was a prince of a man and a true gentleman. Many happy memories of him and his kind words.
    Ed Becker

  11. Pearl Hoines-Tinnin

    Sally and family
    I was saddened to read that Lance had passed away….please accept my sincerest condolences.
    Your family has always been special in my ❤️
    May you rest in peace Lance.

  12. Steve Behlmer MD

    Sally and family. I am home alone in Helena today, and reminiscing about pivotal times and people in my life. I was an emergency room physician in Billings in 1977-1978. Lance and I became acquainted at the hospital and became friends hiking in the woods. One particular hike, we did cross country ignoring the trails. We hiked back from Crow Lake in the dark, with his dog no longer keeping up with us. He carried the dog the rest of the way back. Whenever we had the chance to work together it made my day. I was an Iowa boy. Taking advantage of the internet, I looked Lance up this afternoon. I was sorry to see he had passed. We had a lot more to share, but not enough time. My condolences to you all.

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