Tina Whaley Parker dies at age 82

Longtime city Department of Recreation and Parks

August 18, 2010|By Kate Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Tina Whaley Parker, a longtime city Department of Recreation and Parks employee, died Aug. 5 of cancer at her Ashburton residence. She was 82.

Mrs. Parker, daughter a farmer/businessman and a homemaker, was born and raised in Orangeburg, S.C. She graduated from Wilkinson High School in 1946 and earned her bachelor's degree in sociology in 1950 from what is now Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Upon her graduation, she married Charles T. Parker III, who worked as a city housing manager, and began her career with Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks at the Fairfield Center as a part-time recreation leader.

There, Mrs. Parker organized activities and games for the students and was known for her talent in dealing with children. Mrs. Parker was promoted to center director in 1961 and was relocated to Gwynn Falls Elementary School.

"She had a gift, it's the only way to explain it, just the ability to get kids to respond to her," said Donald Miller, a former co-worker at Fairfield. "The children really loved her; they'd just run to her."

At Gwynn Falls, Mrs. Parker left a lasting impression on co-workers like Henry Gatewood with her commitment to bettering the community and the lives of the students.

"She was a bottle of energy," said Mr. Gatewood. "Small in stature, but bursting with energy."

She worked to provide students with art, dance and music programs, ending each semester with a program where students could show their family and friends what they had learned.

She was promoted again in 1972 to director of Cahill Recreation Center, where she stayed until her retirement in 1994.

"You have left an indelible mark on the Department of Recreation and Parks," said Marlyn J. Parritt, former director of the Department of Recreation and Parks, upon Mrs. Parker's retirement. "You gave everyone such a wonderful gift, the gift of yourself."

During her time with the department, Mrs. Parker was recognized many times for her dedication. She was presented with the Hanlon Dedicated Leader Award in 1978, Mayoral Citation for Community Service in 1985, Recreation Pioneers Hall of Fame Inductee in 1985, Gubernatorial Citation for Community Service in 1989, Fairmount Neighborhood Association Award of Appreciation in 1991 and the Outstanding Service Award in 1995.

In her retirement, Mrs. Parker enjoying spending time visiting family.

"She enjoyed not working," her daughter, Dr. Robin Parker Cox of Hanlon, said with a laugh. "She took it easy."

Services will be held at noon Sept. 2 at March Funeral Home West, 4300 Wabash Ave.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Parker is survived by a son, Charles G. Parker of Richardson, Texas; one grandson; and many nieces and nephews.

katherine.smith@baltsun.com

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