A long-time Pratt business will come to an end on November 18, 2023 when Wayne and Flo Parsons, and Steve and Susan Parsons shut the doors to Parson’s Jewelry store for the final time. Founded on November 19, 1959, and in its current location since day one, Parsons Jewelry has served the greater Pratt area for 64 years with custom jewelry and watch sales, and repair services.
Family patriarch Wayne Parsons’ son Steve shared the story of how his father Wayne got into the business.
“Born in Minneapolis, Kansas, dad was drafted into the Army Infantry in 1943 and served in the Pacific with stints on the Solomon Islands and the Philippines,” Steve Parsons said. “When he came home from the war in 1946, he went on to earn his general education diploma and then kind of looked around for opportunities. There was a hometown jeweler in Cheney called ‘Pipkins Jeweler’ and dad saw this gentleman and saw that he had a descent life and thought, ‘Why don’t I pursued this?’ Dad had worked at Kroger prior to the war, but he had seen the world and wanted to do other things.”
Setting out on the path towards professional jeweler credentials, Wayne Parsons enrolled at the Kansas City School of Watch Making. While learning his trade, he met and eventually married his wife, Flo, who at the time was working for Trans World Airlines (TWA) out of Kansas City. On March 26, 2024, Wayne and Flo will have been married 75 years.
After completing watch making school Wayne worked for the still in existence Ruppelius Jewelry in Winfield, Kansas.
“Dad went to Ruppelius as a young jeweler and this older German gentleman, Ruppelius, told dad, ‘You may think you’re a jeweler, but I’ll make you a jeweler.’ Mr. Ruppelius was quite an artisan,” Steve Parsons said. “He would hand engrave backwards to make wedding invitations for plates so they could stamp them out. They had Southwestern Nursing School down there and dad would make the nursing pins for the students. Dad would take those pins and put blue enamel glass on them and fire them and stone them down. This was old school stuff and a great education. Dad then went on to take a job at Vernon Jewelers in Salina.”
It was while in Salina that Wayne decided he wanted his own business. Looking around for opportunities Wayne found a small jewelry store for sale in Pratt at what is Parsons Jewelry’s current location. They started out renting the building but in 1979 an opportunity came to purchase the building which they then reconfigured to its present look.
These days Wayne’s son Steve and Steve’s wife, Susan, might be the more familiar faces to the patrons of Parsons Jewelry. Steve served in the United States Marine Corp. from 1971 through 1975 and joined his father in the jewelry business in September of 1976.
“I had been a combat engineer in the Marine Corp. so when I got out dad got me a job with a local construction guy. But it wasn’t anywhere near military construction. In private construction you must have your own tools and I didn’t have enough money to buy tools, but I was able to fall back on a skill I had learned while working at Swisher Sports in high school, the ‘gift of gab.’ I learned how to talk to customers, like my mother who also has that gift,” Steve said. “So, I got to thinking about jewelry and I thought, ‘I can do this.’ I was married to Susan and needed to make a paycheck, so I said, ‘let’s give this a try’, and we did.”
So 48 years later for the younger Parson, the family has decided to embrace the end of an era. The building will eventually be sold, but the Parsons family will remain active in the community.
“It’s been a great career and a privilege to work for our customers, we’ve had great support,” Steve said. “This has been hard on all of us, but it’s become easier to talk about as it draws closer and we’re all very thankful for the years we’ve had here. Thank you for the memories.”
Wayne and Flo Parsons echoed son Steve’s sentiments.
“Thank you to the community and all the friends we’ve made. They’ve shown such caring over the years and it means a lot to us.”
Old and new customers who wish to enjoy ongoing sale prices or wish the Parsons family well, may visit Parsons Jewelry at 303 South Main St. or call 620-672-2451 until closing day on November 19 in Pratt..