York, Maine-Thelma Irene (Perras) Parker died peacefully at her home on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 surrounded by her husband and children. Thelma lived a full and adventurous life and was extremely devoted to her family. She was predeceased by her parents, Irene Louise (Hall) and Antonio Joseph Perras, her older brother, Theodore Perras whom she called her best friend, and her daughter in law, Annette (Champoux) Parker. She leaves behind her younger brothers, Arnold and Doreen Perras of Dalton, MA and Henry and Barbara Perras of Amherst, NH; her children Katharine and Arthur Vogel of York, ME, and Robert Parker, Jr. of Big Fork, MT, Thomas and Ruth Parker of Lenox, MA, and Leigh Ann and John MacFarlane of York, ME; her eleven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
Thelma was born in Bennington Vermont and moved early in her childhood to Claremont, NH, where she spent her childhood years, graduated from St. Mary’s, and met her future lifelong partner and husband, Robert (Bob) Tufts Parker. As a young woman, Thelma had many talents. She enjoyed languages and poetry and graduated as the “Class Poet” of St. Mary’s. She won national poetry awards and was awarded a scholarship to attend college in New York for her poetry, which she was unable to take advantage of. She was also a talented athlete and was a featured skater for the New England Ice Follies during her teen age years. As a young woman she worked for New England Telephone & Telegraph and became the youngest managing supervisor for the company.
Thelma and Bob met in 1948 during his Sophomore year at Harvard. Bob fell instantly in love with Thelma and would hitchhike back from Cambridge and later from various Air Force bases across the country just to see Thelma. Thelma and Bob married in 1952 and settled in Geneva, New York during Bob’s service in the Air Force. Thelma continued her career with Ma Bell of New York and also had her first of four children, Katharine. Thelma and Bob lived throughout New York and New England and eventually settled in the Berkshires in the 1960’s to raise their young family, which eventually grew to six. Here, Thelma, founded her own Real Estate company in Lenox, MA while Bob continued his career at General Electric and later Crane Paper Company.
Thelma loved to travel and she and Bob traveled extensively throughout Europe, South America, and the United States. She continued her interest in languages and could constantly be heard practicing her Spanish as she prepared for her journeys abroad. She especially loved learning about South American native cultures and she also developed an interest in the South West Native American cultures and would bring back all sorts of crafts, jewelry and wares from the native artists in those regions. This was her way of supporting those beautiful communities.
Thelma and Bob semi retired to Maine and Florida in the 1980’s where Thelma continued her interest in real estate and began to purchase and rehabilitate properties in Florida, Colorado, and Maine before the phrase “real estate flip” had been coined. Her real estate hobby enabled Thelma to travel to her “projects” that she arranged to be near her grandchildren, the true focus of her heart during her retirement years.
Thelma suffered from dementia toward the end of her life and she fought valiantly against the disease with Bob at her side all the way as he helped care for her and enabled her to remain at home. She always gave thanks to everyone around her and she charmed the beautiful care givers and family who assisted her. She would jokingly finish off the old saying with her own ending, “An Apple a Day Keeps the Lawyers Away,” faithfully every day and would along with her famous smile and endearing giggle. She loved music and had a beautiful voice and would tap her toes and sing along to her favorite songs.
Thelma was a spirited and big force in the lives of her husband, children and grandchildren. She leaves a big hole in the hearts of many and she will never be forgotten. May Thelma rest peacefully in the arms of the Lord.