Barbara Parker obituary (2022) – Saint Petersburg, Florida



PARKER, Barbara W. a beloved socialite, devout Catholic and philanthropist, died on December 3, 2021 from injuries sustained in a fall. She was 89 years old. Barbara Parker was born on February 5 near Borger, Texas. She grew up in Borger and attended the University of Texas at Austin. It was there that she met J. Ross Parker. They married soon after they met and Barbara moved to Tampa after the birth of their first child while Ross was stationed in Germany during the Korean War. They had three children and Barbara was very involved in the schools her children attended. She volunteered at both the Academy of the Holy Names and the Jesuit High School. She worked as a Great Books Leader, a reading program for young children, at the Boys and Girls Academy of the Holy Names. Barbara was an active member of many clubs across Tampa. She was part of the University Club of Tampa, the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, and the Tampa Museum of Art. She also founded the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (currently known as Straz). She was a member of the Tampa Junior Woman’s Club and was president of the Follies for a year. In her spare time, Barbara enjoyed playing tennis, golf, bridge and taking cruises in the Bahamas. She was a voracious reader and loved spending time with her book club friends. Barbara also watched many sports such as golf, soccer, tennis, and the Kentucky Derby. She had a tradition of eating strawberries and whipped cream, while sipping a glass of champagne cheering on the players at Wimbledon each year. Barbara and Ross have traveled the world together thanks to Ross’s work at the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company and their membership in YPO. Barbara told stories of lying on the floor of the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece and of having dinner at the Moscow Palace in Russia. These moments and many more were unique experiences that she truly enjoyed. Barbara and Ross also spent time in Cashiers, North Carolina and the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. While at checkout, Barbara was a member of High Hampton, Chattooga Club, Wade Hampton Golf Club, Cedar Creek Racquet Club, and Wildcat Cliffs Country Club. According to friends, she could have been born with a golf club in one hand and a tennis racket in the other. In Key Largo, Barbara was a member of the Ocean Reef Club. She was also a member of the Anglers Club, Card Sound, Ocean Reef Racquet Club, Quilters, Ocean Reef Yacht Club and Coral Gables Yacht Club. Barbara made the world around her shine. She generously gave of her time, talents and zest for life to those around her through her various club involvement, close family relationships and friendships. The world is a little less bright without the light she has brought everywhere she has gone. Barbara and Ross were married for almost 50 years before she passed away. They loved each other deeply and Ross always had a twinkle in his eyes when Barbara was in the room. Barbara loved sharing the story of Ross’s proposal on their third date, but it took her a few months to finally say yes. Barbara is survived by her daughter, Karen (Matthew Johnston); her two sons, Jeff (Katie Parker) and Thad (Margaret Parker); ten grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and eight nieces and nephews. The Parker family would like to thank the special people who have taken such good care of our mother, especially in recent years (Mike, Kim, Francis, Betty, Blanka, Gloria, Lisandra, Carolyn, Ernest, Jeannie, Petrina, Jennifer, and its many doctors, nurses and physiotherapists). We are eternally grateful. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to: St Scholastica Priory, (In memory of Barbara W. Parker), BOX 606, Petersham, MA 01366. Please contact a family member for service details. 40

Published by Tampa Bay Times on January 2, 2022.

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