How do you adequately capture 90 years of a life well-lived and well-loved? Do you capture it by those in your community? Well, Jan Parker had multiple circles that she loved and nurtured. Communities were important to her, the people who sustained her in good and bad times. If we measure a life by the quality of our interpersonal relationships, then Jan Parker was wealthy beyond belief.
Here are a few of the communities that Jan belonged to …
If friendships are the measure of wealth, then Jan was rich with people she loved and those who loved her in return. Jan had friendships that lasted a lifetime. Once you arrived in Jan’s inner circle, you had arrived. She loved you fiercely, loyally, and respectfully. Jan had no problem being your biggest fan, calling you to accountability and praying for you always.
If you measure your life by what you did right versus the things you wish you did better; then Jan again was in the winner’s circle. She knew how to play, laugh and was always up for an adventure or to try something new. Jan did not wait for life to happen to her; she happened to life. Her zest at trying new things was unprecedented. Yet when a situation called for Jan to be disciplined, she could and would do just that; but there was always a twinkle in her eyes and a readiness for “some fun!”
How do you capture a life of 90 years? You show a picture of Jan Parker. You share some stories. Let the laugh roll into a belly laugh. You can play some cards. You can eat some interesting snacks. You sit in solitude with someone. You extend a helping hand and you be of service. You give a gift and expect nothing in return. You nurture friendships. That is how you capture a life of amazing vibrancy and love.
Jan was born in 1932 to Ray and Agnes Overdick in Marin County. She and her sister, Maureen, attended Catholic schools and held long-lasting friendships with not only her classmates but also with many of the Sisters who taught at the school. She was so smart, even skipping a grade.
Life liked to throw Jan challenges, which occurred when she contracted tuberculosis at 17. She spent 6 months in Arequipa TB Sanatorium celebrating her 18th birthday there. This was a tough time, but Jan created community wherever she went; making life long-friendships. She was the youngest of the women she met at Arequipa, many of whom looked out after her and showed her “what was what”. This group later travelled together and never missed an opportunity to laugh together. When you have seen folks endure terrible things, you find as many reasons as possible to get together and laugh.
Jan recovered from TB and entered the workforce. Again, she met great folks and practiced a strong work ethic that never failed her. Jan married Thomas Parker in 1958 and they had four children–Anne, John, Katie and Matt. They lived in a variety of locations (including Arco and Salmon, ID; Medford and Grants Pass, OR) but finally settled down in Sumner, WA, where Jan established roots for herself and her kids. Tom and Jan divorced, but Sumner had become home, and Jan was active in helping her kids establish themselves and create their own circles of community. It was during this time that Jan found Alcoholics Anonymous, and it would become a grounding and integral part of her world for the next 46+ years.
After Jan’s divorce, she re-entered the workforce in 1979 and was hired as a kit cutter at Heath Tecna Inc. Jan worked for Heath Tecna until the mid-90s, when she took an early retirement. Jan was always very proud of not only her work, but the work she did with the union. In 1991, Jan served as a Shop Steward working diligently to pull the Union and the company towards a good working relationship. People trusted Jan!
Once Jan retired, she was living large! She would be the first one to tell you she had no business retiring when she did. The funds she lived on were frugal, but again, Jan made the most of everything. She had over 25 years of retirement and she lived fully in that time with her children, grandchildren, and friends. She will be missed by so many! And that, my friends, is how to capture and live a life! Well done, Jan!
Janet Parker passed away, surrounded in love at her home on April 3, 2022. Jan was born in 1932 to Ray and Agnes Overdick, and she had one sister, Maureen Overdick Sawyer–all deceased. She is survived by her children, Anne Parker Frisby (Gordy Thomas), John Parker (Ashley Barker), Katie Parker and Matthew Parker (Cindy Codispoti-Parker). She is also survived by her grandchildren: Lorenzo Testa Parker; Trevor Frisby; Moe Frisby; Brett Parker; Gian Parker; Blaine Parker and Gus Parker. She is preceded in death by her grandson, Weston Frisby.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite non-profit in her name. Jan gave to several charities, some of which included Mercy Housing Northwest, National Public Radio (NPR), TB Photo Voice, Nativity House and the American Lung Association.
In lieu of a Rosary, there will be a virtual story-telling time on June 30, 2022, at 5:30 pm (link to be provided). A funeral mass will be held on July 1, 2022, at 12:10 pm at St. Leo’s Catholic Church (710 S. 13th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405) followed immediately by a reception. Her family will privately scatter Jan’s ashes.