Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Dolores Parbel

November 22, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI



Thursday, November 30, 2023
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 453-8263
Driving Directions


Friday, December 1, 2023
11:00 AM EST
St. Anthony Padua Catholic Church
2510 Richmond St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

St. Anthony Education Foundation
2510 Richmond Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Ball Park Floral
8 Valley Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 459-3409
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


As her family and friends can certainly attest, Dolores Parbel truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times, and she always had an encouraging word to say. Nothing brought Dolores greater joy than spending time with her loved ones, even in the simplest of times. Her faith formed the unshakeable foundation of her life, and she faced every challenge head-on with a spirit of firm determination. Forever loved, Dolores will be dearly missed by those who knew her best.

The 1930s in the United States is remembered as a decade of struggle for many. The Great Depression had a chokehold on the nation, and families demonstrated their strength and resilience as they worked to make ends meet. It was during this trying time that John and Matilda Burns of Grand Rapids, Michigan, were awaiting the birth of their sixth child. On July 8, 1934, their wait was over, and they welcomed their daughter, Dolores Ann, into the Burns family.

Growing up, Dolores was a typical young girl of her generation. She was raised in the family home on the West side of Grand Rapids alongside her six siblings, Donna, Robert, Mildred, Art, Marylou, and Barbara. The Burns family was close knit, and the siblings were good friends to each other. From a young age, Dolores was known to be a tomboy. She loved playing sports with her friends and neighbors at Lincoln Park, and she could hit a ball into any corner of the field.

Throughout her childhood, Dolores attended local schools. She went to grade school at St. James Catholic Church school, then moved on to Mount Mercy, an all-girls school, during her high school years. Dolores enjoyed socializing; she had many girl friends and loved hanging around with them in her free time. In high school, Dolores worked at Matthew’s Drug Store, manning the soda fountain.

Following high school, Dolores would soon meet the love of her life. She often attended events hosted for catholic singles, where she met John Parbel. There was an instant spark between Dolores and John. Her brother, Art, attended school with John, and he assured Dolores that he was a good guy. Dolores and John enjoyed going on dates every weekend. She loved going to hear him play the trumpet. It didn’t take the two long to realize that they were made for each other. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Dolores and John were married on January 12, 1957, at St. James Catholic Church, then enjoyed their honeymoon in Chicago.

All who knew Dolores can surely agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. Over the years, she and John were overjoyed to welcome their six children, Deborah, Ruth, Ginny, June, Mary Kay, and Eric, into their home. A seventh child, Elizabeth Rose, passed away at birth, but she lived on in their hearts. Dolores was devoted to the role as both a mother and homemaker. She took pride in the upkeep of her home and enjoyed preparing home cooked meals for her family. She valued her children and did her best to raise them into kind and hardworking individuals. Later in life, Dolores was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother. She was happy to watch her extended family grow to include many nieces and nephews.

When it came to providing for herself and her loved ones, Dolores was never afraid to work hard. After getting married to John, she began working at the bank; however, once she and John started a family, she dedicated herself to raising her children. While caring for her family, Dolores was also a bookkeeper for Parbel’s Garage and Service, the family’s small business. Later, she re-entered the workforce, driving school buses. Dolores truly enjoyed her career, and it gave her the opportunity to touch the lives of countless others. She spent time serving her community by volunteering at her church as well.

In 1964, the Parbel family moved to a house they built on Blueberry Drive, and Dolores loved entertaining the neighborhood with summertime pool parties. After she lost John in 1998, she settled into her dream home and tended to her large flower garden. Dolores was a faithful member of St. Anthony Church for many years. She enjoyed listening to music, and her passion for family history led her to research and compile a record of her German and Irish ancestry for the next generations to look back on.

When reflecting on the life of Dolores Parbel, it is easy to see both her unwavering strength and unconditional love for her family. She poured her heart and soul into all that she did. A caring wife, mother, and grandmother, Dolores was beloved by many and a friend to those around her. She devoted herself to serving her community, and she was always willing to go above and beyond to help others. Though she will be deeply missed, Dolores leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.

Dolores Ann (Burns) Parbel went to be with her Lord and Savior on November 22, 2023 after a long battle with dementia. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Matilda Burns; her husband, John Parbel; infant daughter, Elizabeth Rose Parbel; as well as her siblings, Donna (Bill) DeFouw, Robert (Chareen) Burns, Mildred (Dick) Prince and Art Burns; and in-laws, Robert Blackwell, Louise and Elmo Slater, Irene and John Dyar, Josephine and Eugene Kozak, Peter and Lorraine Parbel and Rosemary Kilmartin. Dolores is survived by her children, Deborah Cabrera, Ruth Parbel, Ginny (Tom) Fitzsimmons, June Anderson, Mary Kay (Salomon) Mancio and Eric Parbel. Dolores was blessed to be a grandmother to Camille, Sofia, Steve, Patrick, Amanda, Andres, Alicia (Conner), Nick, and Alex, as well as her great-granddaughter, Gabriela. Dolores is also survived by her sister, Mary Lou Blackwell, Barbara Burns, sister-in-law Charlene Burns and brother-in-law Edmund Kilmartin; and many nieces and nephews. Dolores will be well-remembered for her love of family, and her faith. Dolores’s family will meet with friends on Thursday, November 30, 2023 from 5-8 pm, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, on Friday December 1, 2023 at 11:00 am, 2510 Richmond St NW, Grand Rapids, 49504. Friends may visit with Dolores’ family an hour prior to this. Memorials in Dolores’ honor may be given to St. Anthony Education Foundation. Please visit Dolores’ personal memory page to leave a memory, sign the guest book, at www.heritagelifestory.com