Obituary: Jean Garde Parker

Jean Garde Parker, of Reisterstown, MD, formerly of Wilton, CT, passed away on February 18, 2018. She was born on August 9, 1941 in Newark, NJ to the late Jean Shepherd Garde and John Charles Garde.

She is survived by her daughters, Lesley Parker-Rollins (and Ray Parker-Rollins) of Lutherville, MD and Christine Parker Hunt (and Addison Hunt) of Kensington, MD. Her grandchildren include: Tyler, Will and Maya Parker-Rollins and Gloria Hunt. She is also survived by her brother, John and his wife, Allison and their daughter Sarah Garde of Morristownship, NJ. Her surviving cousins include: Paul Doud, Bob Doud and Louise Doud-Ross. An enormous source of joy and love throughout her life were her college sorority sisters and so she is also survived by many loving Kappa Kappa Gammas.

Jean grew up in Lyndhurst, NJ with both sets of grandparents living nearby — her maternal grandparents Homer P. Shepherd and Olive A. Shepherd and her paternal grandparents Charles Garde and Irene Garde. Her father was an attorney and served as Judge and Mayor of Lyndhurst. Her mother was an attentive and loving homemaker.

She graduated from Lyndhurst High School in 1959 and went on to the College of William and Mary and majored in Art History, joining the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and graduating in 1963.

During her sophomore year of college her brother John Charles Garde, Jr. was born. He is a Partner at McCarter and English in Newark, NJ.

Jean married Stephen Dwight Parker, Jr. in 1966, a fellow William and Mary Graduate, in Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, VA. They moved to Connecticut where he was in seminary at Yale’s Berkeley Divinity School and she worked at the Peabody Children’s Museum. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982. They had two daughters, Lesley and Christine, who loved her dearly.

Jean worked for and served the community throughout her life — as a skilled and energetic arts educator, tour guide, and docent in museums and art galleries — spreading her contagious enthusiasm for the arts and history to everyone she met. She loved books and libraries just as much and combined her love of art and books at the Wilton Public Library, curating art exhibits for years. In addition, she worked at the Wilton Art Gallery and was a docent at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT. Once in Maryland, she volunteered at the Reisterstown Public Library, Evergreen Museum and Library, and Hampton National Historic site.

She served in the political arena in Canton and Wilton, CT — serving on the Board of Finance in Canton, and leading the Democratic Town Committee in Wilton. She also helped organize volunteers and activities for the League of Women Voters. She was politically active long before the Women’s Movement of today and demonstrated the importance of getting and staying involved as a voter and woman to her daughters on a regular basis — by running for local office herself, taking them to see Geraldine Ferraro speak, and teaching them to be vocal and active feminists.

With Jean’s passion for books, art, history and politics, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your local public library, your local art museum or donating to (or becoming) a local political candidate.

Memorial services are planned for the spring in the Maryland and Connecticut areas.