Doris L Polen

June 10, 1925January 16, 2020

Doris Louise Polen came into this world on June 10, 1925 as Doris Louise Wright, daughter of German immigrant Marie and English immigrant George Wright. Her generous and spirited personality emerged early, as she recruited her young sisters, Betty and Jeanette, to make friends with train hobos of the Great Depression, offering them food and trading their meat sandwiches for peanut butter and jelly.

During World War II, she filled the position at the rail yard left vacant by Robert Melvin Polen as he served in the Army Corp of Engineers in the South Pacific. When he returned, he married her, although they both claimed it was only to get his job back. Doris and Robert shared a love for friends, Pinochle, and adventure.

In the first 15 years of their marriage, they moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Oregon, then to California, followed by a return to Missouri, then Florida’s east coast. In 1963, they returned to Kansas City, where their oldest daughter, Barbara, met and married her high school sweet heart, George W Parks Jr.

Devoted to family, Doris and Robert stayed in Kansas City for more than 30 years. Their second daughter, Judy, was born 10 years after Barbara, and remains in Kansas City today. Robert worked as a sterographer for the Kansas City Star, while Doris worked part time as a secretary at a doctors office. The two then decided to go into the business of growing and selling orchids, erecting a greenhouse behind their home. Robert grew them, Doris transformed them into corsages, and together they drove the delivery route to various florists. They began to experiment with breeding of the plants, winning many awards. Eventually, the reputation and business of Orchids by Polen grew to the point they served as florists for the inaugural balls of several Missouri governors.

Doris was full of energy. In addition to the orchid business, she grew a large garden and drove a tractor to maintain the acreage. Her abundant success in growing green beans left an indelible mark on the grandchildren who were recruited to snap them.

For years, Doris continued doing laundry the old fashioned way, through a ringer washer and dried on an outside line. To the delight of her grandchildren, she and Robert kept a trolly car in their basement. Doris taught her grandchildren gardening and business, needlepoint and crochet, and they affectionately called her “Gunk”.

In their free time, Robert and Doris loved to travel and entertain with the Army veterans that had served with Robert. They loved to host parties and card games. They both loved meeting people, hosting a booth at various garden shows, often turning strangers into friends.

In 1994, Robert and Doris moved to the Tamarac retirement community in Seminole, Florida. Robert said it was to keep an eye on his granddaughters, who had previously relocated to the Tampa Bay Area, but the reality was that Robert’s health was failing and he wanted Doris in a place she could continue living an active life without him.

After Robert passed a few months later, Doris threw herself into volunteer work, spending countless hours serving the local hospital, the HOA, bringing meals to the home bound, and driving “the old people” around town. Now well into her 70’s, Doris overcame her lifelong fear of the water to join her family on a cruise. Thereafter, she became a loyal and devout fan of Royal Caribbean, and their sugar free strawberry pound cake.

Doris continued this active lifestyle until age of 88, when her own health began to fail. In 2014, she moved to Freedom Square, where she made many friends. Even at the end, she bravely fought against dementia to live life to its fullest. On January 16, 2020, at the age of 94, Doris was finally granted the rest and peace she had earned.

Doris leaves behind her daughter Barbara, son in law George, granddaughter Carol Parks, grandson in law Mike Vold and great granddaughter Sara Parks Vold, all of Seminole and Madeira Beach, a granddaughter Cassandra Gorton and great grandson Kelsey “Thomas” Gorton, of Greenville, South Carolina (formerly Sarasota).

Doris also leaves behind a daughter, Judy McPhail, grandsons Andrew and Jeremy McPhail, and great grandchildren in Kansas City, Missouri.

But most of all, Doris leaves a legacy of love, determination and service to others. She was truly a gift to this world, and she will be missed.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be offered to The Hospice Foundation of the Florida Suncoast, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33760 or to the Alzheimer's Association - Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, 14010 Roosevelt Blvd, #709, Clearwater, FL 33762.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, January 23, 2020 from 1:30 pm to 3 pm at the Serenity Funeral Home, 13401 Indian Rocks Road, Largo with the funeral service at 3 pm. Burial will follow in Serenity Gardens Memorial Park immediately after.

Condolences may be offered at


  • Daughter, Barbara (George) Parks
    Granddaughter, Carol Parks
    Grandson-in-law, Mike Vold
    Great Granddaughter, Sara Parks Vold
    Granddaughter, Cassandra Gorton and Great Grandson Kelsey "Thomas" Gorton
    Daughter, Judy McPhail
    Grandsons Andrew and Jeremy McPhail
    Great Grandchildren in Kansas City, Missouri


  • Visitation Thursday, January 23, 2020
  • Funeral Service Thursday, January 23, 2020


Doris L Polen

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Mike Vold

January 20, 2020

Doris "Gunk",
I will truly miss you, thank you for accepting me into your family and calling me your grandson! I will miss all the times you let me come over and watch the Vikings play on ESPN with you! Letting me help you around your house and of course you giving me a hard time. Rest in peace and know you will always be remembered!
Love always your grandson-in-law "Mike"

Donald Mahoney

January 19, 2020

Barbara, George and Family. It is sad to lose a loved one, but after reading Doris' loving and glowing life in her obituary, it is gratifying to know she lived and loved to the fullest that life could afford. You were rewarded to have her and enjoy life with her for 94 years. I know you will miss her, but you can also be consoled by the fact that you did all you could to make her last few years comfortable. Now you can feel that she is at rest and enjoying the rewards of life well spent. May she rest in peace. Don