NORTHAMPTON – Kenneth A. Parent, 96, passed away peacefully at Cooley Dickinson Hospital on Dec. 4, 2012, after a brief illness.
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Ken was born May 27, 1916, in Northampton, and was the son of Francis and Mary (Lee) Parent.
He attended Northampton schools, graduating from Northampton High School in 1935, where he was an outstanding athlete participating in both football and baseball. He was an amateur boxer during his youth.
Ken was drafted in the United States Army on Feb. 24, 1941, where he served in the Anti-Aircraft Division, the War Theater Division and the Cryptographic Service in New Dehli, India. He was honorably discharged, and he returned to the states on Jan. 3, 1946. He received the victory medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Theater Campaign Ribbon and the American Theater Campaign Ribbon for his services in World War II.
Ken worked for 35 years in the Plastics Fabricating Department at the former Vistron Division of the Standard Oil Company of Ohio in Florence, retiring as a foreman.
He was a lifetime member of the Lions Club in Northampton and the Lions Club International. He was the recipient of the Melvin Jones Award, the highest honor in the Lions Club for dedicated humanitarian service, and also served as Director of the District 33 Y Emergency Sight and Hearing Fund and also served as King Lion.
Ken was an avid stamp collector, and this inspired him to start a stamp club at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, and he was always available for other volunteer work at Clarke School. Ken was also a long-time advocate, Board Member and Volunteer at the People's Institute in Northampton, working tirelessly on the fundraisers to save the building. In the 1900's Andrew Carnegie gave the magnificent building to the city, but left no money for the building maintenance, and was becoming worn down. Ken was able to raise the money mainly by donations, and the major repairs were made.
Always an ardent gardener, both in Massachusetts and Sarasota, Fla., he established a Memorial Rose Garden, and served on many committees at Tri Par Estates where he retired. Today the garden has been renamed the Ken Parent Memorial Garden, and there is a garden group named the Ken Parent Garden Committee who have continued Ken's tireless efforts at maintaining a memorial garden.
He was a member of the Bradenton-Sarasota Rose Society. He enjoyed playing bridge throughout his lifetime, especially duplicate bridge, helped build the first miniature golf course at Tri Par Estates, and was an avid shuffleboard participant, serving as president of the club for several years.
Ken entertained visitors from Northampton who were visiting Florida, and could often be seen at the Red Sox training camp or the Ringling Museum with visitors from the North. He and Connie were gracious hosts to all who visited.
Ken traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States with his wife, Connie. After her death he returned to live in Northampton to be close to family and friends. Ken will be remembered for being the consummate gentleman, for his ever present smile, his graciousness, his sense of humor and his powerful handshake. He will be missed by his family, friends and his private caregivers, Jackie and Kara Hayes and Matt Zucker.
Ken was predeceased by his wife, Constance Haessler, who died on Sep. 14, 2008, and his son, Kenneth Paul who died on July 29, 1966.
He leaves a brother, Robert Parent of Northampton; his sisters-in-law, Helen Parent of Springfield, Ruth Krarup of Ann Arbor, Mich., Margie (Gordon) Trowbridge of Clairmont, N.H.; and his brother-in-law, Carl (Martha) Heasler of Erie, Penn.; and many nieces and nephews, including, Gail Glazier of Hadley and Ken O'Brien of Northampton, his caregivers for the past four years.
Ken's funeral will be held on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, beginning at the Pease and Gay Funeral Home, 425 Prospect St. at 9 a.m. with a liturgy of Christian Burial at Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, Elm St. at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Spring Grove Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Northampton Lions Club, P.O. Box 3, Northampton, MA 01060.
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Pease Gay Funeral Home
425 Prospect Street Northampton, MA 01060
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Dec. 6, 2012