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John Parke

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BENNINGTON -- Mr. John Parke of Essex, N.Y. formerly of Middlebury, died Dec. 4 at the age of 90 at a nursing home in Bennington. During his life he was a teacher, an author of three books, a farmer, editor and poet.

Mr. Parke was born in Short Hills, N.J. Feb. 28, 1913, the son of Louis Parke and Elinor Dodsworth Parke. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1936 and furthered his studies at Harvard University and Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College from which he received his master’s degree.

He got his first teaching job at the Putney School and later taught at Wesleyan University, the University of Florida, Fisk University, Amherst College, Middlebury College and Castleton State College. In his later years he worked as a freelance editor of book manuscripts.

He published three works of fiction for young adults: “Scratchy” in 1951, about a cat, Amos, “The Beagle with a Plan” in 1953 and “The Moonships” in 1958, about a boy who imagines an expedition to the moon.

Mr. Parke also ran a farm in Middlebury from 1957 to 1971, one of the first in the area to rely solely on organic fertilizers. In 1975 he built his house in Essex, N.Y., generating his own electricity there from solar and wind energy.

Mr. Parke’s literary interests included Shakespeare, Herman Melville, and modern English poetry. He produced a poetry program heard regularly on WRUV in Burlington and occasionally on Vermont Public Radio. For many years he sailed his wooden sailboat in races on Lake Champlain. He loved farm animals and cats, as well as square dancing, classical music and amateur theatre. He also enjoyed wildlife and was good at bird identification.

He was separated from his wife, Renate, of Hinesburg, who survives him.

He is also survived by a former wife, Peg of Montpelier, as well as by five children: Tanager of Montpelier, Ethan of Montpelier, Adam of Barton, Santha of Goshen, Mass. and Nathaniel of Bennington; also two step-children, Laura of Athens, Greece and Kimberly of St Paul, Minn; and six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held at the Essex Community Church in Essex, N.Y. on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 12:30 p.m.

Contributions in memory of Mr. Parke may be made to the Lake Champlain Committee through the office of the Mahar and Son Funeral Home 628, Main St., Bennington, VT 05201.
Published in Bennington Banner on Dec. 11, 2003
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