In July, my grandmother, Mary Rowena Parker, passed away at the age of 96.
She was a remarkable woman that lived a very full life. I always knew her as a devoted grandparent, but it wasn’t until later in life that I came to understand how much she contributed beyond her family. She was an example to be modeled.
As the remaining members of the Greatest Generation are reaching their twilight, I am reminded that while they were not perfect, they have much to teach subsequent generations. A few things that come to mind include:
- Faith in things greater than yourself.
- Devotion to family.
- Selfless service to others.
- Involvement in the community.
- Leaving things better than you found them.
- Persevering through challenges.
In my estimate, these are characteristics that are important for all generations to embrace.
I will close by poster her obituary. She will be missed!
Mary Rowena Parker of Houston, Texas (formerly of Baytown Texas) passed away on July 21, 2019. Rowena was born on March 22, 1923, in Horatio, Arkansas. She was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church. At the time of her death, she was a member of Cedar Bayou Grace UMC in Baytown where she had been an active participant in the Homemakers Sunday School class and UMW Outreach Circle. She lived her life with a quiet dignity and an unwavering faith in the Lord.
All during high school, she was known by the teachers and staff as “Lady Rowena.” This name followed her on into college when her high school biology/chemistry teacher became a professor at Henderson State Teachers College where Rowena attended in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She also attended Lee College in Baytown and University of Houston Clear-Lake. For more than forty years, she worked as a tax accountant and “dabbled” in real estate during much of that time. She held a Real Estate Brokers License for over 20 years. She was active in the Graywood Civic Association in Baytown, having served many years as treasurer.
Rowena loved to travel. She was very happy when traveling with her husband James and her brother Martin Grady to properties in various parts of Texas, especially acreage near Kerrville in Kerr County, Texas. But she was happiest when they traveled to Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington visiting family.
She loved her family, her church, her community, her country, and her God. She was a loving caregiver for many years for her aunt Zephyr and for her brother Henry W (Dub.) She loved poetry and shared this love with her aunt. Rowena had made a book of her favorite poems. They spent many hours in laughter and tears as Rowena read these to her. Her brother Dub was very close in age to his sister. He had a great admiration and respect for her. When times got difficult near the end of his life, he would calm down when the attendant mentioned Rowena’s name.
Rowena’s home was the gathering place for all: mother, dad, children, sister, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. “Aunt Rowena’s” chocolate pie was always requested. She had a love of nature: flowers, trees and shrubs, birds and even the pesky squirrels, unless they were destroying one of the hanging baskets. Her backyard was a haven for everything she loved. Being civic-minded and enjoying her Graywood neighborhood so much, she was instrumental in getting a walking path constructed in her neighborhood park.
Her life was influenced greatly by her mother and her paternal grandmother. Her mother’s motto, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) became the way of life for Rowena. She was also a believer in her grandmother’s philosophies: “cleanliness is next to godliness,” “a stitch in time, saves nine,” and “a place for everything and everything in its place.” There are far too many to recount.
Rowena’s favorite biblical passage, in addition to the 23rd Psalm, was Psalm 121 verses 1 and 2, taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
She spent the last years of her life at Clarewood House in Houston, Texas. She was preceded in death by her devoted and loving husband of more than 72 years, James H. Parker; their daughter Jane Ellen Parker; her parents Paul Elmo and Annie Laurie Grady; sister Kathleen Casagrande and her husband Robert; brothers Henry W. Grady and Paul E. Grady, Jr.; and son-in-law David (Dave) Shaver.
Rowena is survived by her daughter Judy and husband Steve Kaufman of Corbett Oregon; her grandson Eric Shaver of Eagle Idaho; her granddaughter Savannah and husband Josh Hughes of Ft. Peck Montana; five great-grandsons, Gannon, Braden, Colton, Landon, and Paxton Hughes; and one great-granddaughter, Shaylie Hughes, all of Ft. Peck Montana. Other survivors include two step-grandchildren, Tracy and husband Scott Gregory of Vancouver, Washington and Stephanie and husband Brian Lally of Turner, Oregon. Three step-great-grandchildren, Scott Evan and Nicole Gregory and Ryann Lally, survive her as well.
Also surviving are her brother Martin Grady of Houston Texas; sisters-in-law Erma Grady of Cleburne, Texas, and Nona Connolly of Junction City, Kansas; brother-in-law Wesley and wife Nell Parker of Niceville, Florida, and numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held in the Chapel at Clarewood House on 7400 Clarewood Drive in Houston Texas on Saturday, August 3rd at 2 p.m. with Chaplain Will Knuckols officiating.
Arrangements are under the direction of Miller Funeral & Cremation Services. In lieu of usual remembrances, contributions may be made to Clarewood House or a charity of your choice. Interment will be at Houston National Cemetery.