Rev. Sumler Parran, 107, decorated veteran, dies


April 04, 1991

Services for the Rev. Sumler E. Parran, who at 107 was Maryland's oldest veteran, will be held at noon today at the John Wesley United Methodist Church, 3202 W. North Ave.

Mr. Parran, a retired Social Security Administration employee and an evangelist who preached at churches in Baltimore and Southern Maryland, died Friday at Bon Secours Hospital after a short illness.

A resident of Westwood Avenue in West Baltimore, Mr. Parran retired in 1965 -- in his early 80s -- from the Social Security Administration, where he had been a messenger and delivered supplies. Earlier, he held construction jobs and worked at the Sparrows Point plant of the Bethlehem Steel Corp.

Mr. Parran was born Dec. 10, 1883, in a house at Howard and Hamburg streets, beneath an old streetcar bridge -- the seventh son in a family of 15 children.

Mr. Parran was already in his 30s when he enlisted in the Army in 1916, serving in France with the all-black Red Hand Division, 372nd Infantry.

"We fought in 98 battles," he told The Sun in a 1985 interview, "and the Germans tore us up the same as a piece of paper. Two hundred and fifty of us left Baltimore and 13 of us came back. I came back with a plate in my head, hit by shrapnel."

Mr. Parran was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for bravery in action.

He wore his medal and an American Legion uniform during annual visits to Lockerman-Bundy Elementary School in West Baltimore, where he would talk to students about citizenship and patriotism every Defenders Day for more than 65 years.

In return, the children would throw him a birthday party to mark each visit.

A member of the Prince Hall Masons for more than 50 years, he also belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans.

He was a member of the Pride of Baltimore Lodge and other groups in the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, and noted in 1985 that he was "the oldest Elk living."

His first wife, Lydia Parran, died in 1958.

He is survived by his wife, Janie Parran; two daughters, Naomi Wilburn of Baltimore and Celestine Moore of Fredericksburg, Va.; a son, Robert Parran of Baltimore; a sister, Mary Myers of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.