Johnny Lee Parnell

May 4, 1950 ~ November 9, 2020 (age 70)


Johnny Lee Parnell of Norman, OK passed away on November 9th, 2020 doing work that he loved.

He was born to Kenneth and Peggy Parnell on May 4th, 1950 in Oklahoma City. Kenneth was an itinerant preacher, so John grew up in many locations across east Texas and Oklahoma. He graduated from Earlsboro High School in 1968. A memory he loved to share was playing a cold and snowy high school football game in Tecumseh OK.

In 1974, he became manager of a freight company in Pauls Valley OK, where he met and married Rosa June (Jones) Anai. Her teenage children, Penny and Dowell became his family. Penny’s girlfriends found her new 24-year-old stepfather so young, handsome, and charming, they nicknamed him “Baby John John”.

John and Rose were blessed with a baby girl Johnnie Autumn in August 1977, while living in Lindsay OK. John’s lifelong career as a professional truck driver, included early stints with Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, and BJ Hughes. Then in 1978 - 1984 he drove for TransCon Freight Lines and Lee Way Motor Freight as a long-haul driver. In 1984, he went to work as a car hauler for Jack Cooper Transport for 28 years. John was a proud member of Teamsters Local 886 where he deeply treasured the camaraderie and brotherhood of his many longtime buddies.

John was an extremely hard worker, always with an eye on what he could do next for his family.

John was a wonderful father and grandfather. Truly characteristic of his open heart, he was proud to be called Grandpa at the age of 31. With his daughter Johnnie and Penny’s daughters Amanda and Ariel being close in age, John’s generosity provided his three beloved girls many wonderful childhood experiences. John’s stepson Dowell blessed John again with two wonderful and adored grandchildren Rilee and Justin Anai.

A defining moment in John’s life at the age of 50, was the birth of John’s first grandson Dalton Lee Black in 2000. From this moment on John and Rose’s life revolved around their love and devotion to Dalton.

In 2006, John and Rose were blessed with a second grandson, Knight Gossett, who brought even more happiness and joy.

In 2012, Rose passed. Due to health concerns, John retired from Jack Cooper Transports. During this decade, John became a great grandfather 3 times with the births of precious great granddaughters Adrian and Alonnah Bradshaw, and very special great grandson Charles Anai.

In 2013, John found even more purpose and love in his life with the birth of his third grandson Mekko Givens.

John devoted his remaining years to spending as much time as possible influencing and doting on his young grandsons and lovingly caring for his parents. John was never one to waste a spare moment. He somehow made time to expand his love of reading science fiction and his deep fascination with space travel and the cosmos. He enjoyed many Saturday breakfast “meetings” with his Teamsters brethren. John was also fortunate to find a side vocation as a driver for film projects in Oklahoma. This chapter in his career brought him great fun, happiness, and many new friends with whom to share his stories.

John was a rock for all who knew him. He could be counted on in every circumstance. He was kind, generous and devoted to always being of help to someone in need. He truly performed saintly deeds every day. He was brave in the face of illness for 8 plus years, always finding new ways to be vital, full of life, and needed by all in his orbit.

He has taught us, loved us, and made us better. We hope to honor his legacy by following his example.

He was preceded in death by his four siblings, Nora (1953), Larry (1976), Kenny L. (2008) and Sandra (2011), and his grandmother Dorothy Richardson (2001). His wife Rose in 2012, and his stepson Dowell Anai in 2015, and a special great nephew Colton Parnell in 2013.

He is survived by his parents Kenneth and Peggy Parnell, the center of his universe daughter Johnnie, son in law Daniel Givens, treasured grandsons Dalton Black, Knight Gossett, Mekko Givens, his stepdaughter Penny Tunnell, son in law Bart Tunnell all of Norman. Adult grandchildren he loved so dearly Amanda Tunnell and Ariel Tunnell of Los Angeles CA, Rilee (David) Bradshaw of Wynnewood OK. Justin (Alyssa) Anai of Paoli OK, great grandchildren Adrian and Alonnah Bradshaw, Charles Anai, and a host of incredibly special nieces, nephews, and their children.

The family would like to especially thank John’s friend Emily O’Banion for her courage, professionalism, compassion, and acts of kindness during this difficult time.

Due to Covid 19, no services are planned for the immediate future.

Condolences to be sent to the Parnell Family at P.O. Box 765 Norman, Oklahoma 73069

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