Charles Parlette

[ Age 77 ] One of Howard County's first sworn police officers was a volunteer firefighter in the county for six decades.

Mr. Parlette was one of the youngest county firefighters ever when he joined as a teenage volunteer.

October 22, 2007|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun reporter

Charles Winfield Parlette, one of Howard County's first sworn police officers and a volunteer firefighter for six decades, died Friday at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. The Clarksville resident was 77.

Family members said he died from complications from a heart attack.

A lifelong resident of Howard County, Mr. Parlette grew up on his family's 200-acre dairy farm in Clarksville. When his mother sold the land, she set aside a portion for her family. He built his home on the site in 1957 and resided there until his death.

"Howard County has been his whole life," said his son, Ronald K. Parlette Sr. of Pasadena.

Mr. Parlette joined the 5th District Howard County Fire Department as a volunteer when he was a teenager, becoming one of the youngest members ever, said his son.

As a firefighter, he installed dry hydrants, his wife, Ann, said.

In 1958, Mr. Parlette joined the county police force, working there for five years. He received the sixth badge issued by the Howard County Police Department, said his wife.

One night, Mr. Parlette responded to a large bar fight and couldn't squeeze in any more suspects in his police car. So he told the ones he couldn't fit into his vehicle to follow him to the police station. The suspects complied, said his wife.

"They were afraid of Officer Parlette," she said. "He was a 6-foot-2 man. They respected him."

After leaving the police force in 1963, Parlette worked as a security guard for Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab and sold insurance for Prudential Insurance Co. for 25 years. He retired in 1992.

He had four sons with his first wife, Ina Lou Parlette, who resides in Ellicott City. They divorced in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Parlette was preceded in death by one of his four sons, Wayne E. Parlette, and a brother, Donald G. Parlette.

Mr. Parlette and his second wife, Ann Parlette, lived together since the early 1980s and married in 2003.

They aspired to travel to all 50 states together.

"We've been to all but three states - Alaska, Washington and North Dakota," Ms. Parlette said. "That was the goal - to travel to all 50; now I'm going to have to complete it."

Mr. Parlette collected cowboy hats and enjoyed attending the rodeo and dirt races.

Friends called him Winnie, short for his middle name, Winfield. They knew him as a neighborhood handyman who would repair lawn mowers, chainsaws, blowers and appliances.

A meticulous mechanic, Mr. Parlette had a used refrigerator he purchased in the 1950s that he maintained until it finally broke beyond repair in the 1990s.

"He loved tinkering with things," his son said.

"He could take a piece of lawnmower, washing machine and put them together or make something out of it. ... All of us boys work on things today. We used to work on cars together and learned it all from Dad."

A service will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Highland.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Parlette is survived by other two sons, Charles Martin Parlette of Westminster and Stephen Lee Parlette of Sykesville; two stepsons, David R. Gaither and John W. Gaither; two stepdaughters, Janet Lynne Gaither and Carol Ann McHenry; two brothers, Howard D. Parlette and James R. Parlette; 19 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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