Patricia "Pat" Jones Parnell, 93, of Stratham, a local poet and teacher, died Thursday, March 22, 2018, following complications from heart surgery. She was born April 12, 1924 in Richmond, Va., to Ruth Ardis (Seybolt) Jones and Dr. Basil Bradbury Jones.
Known in New Hampshire Seacoast poetry circles as "the Queen of the Hoot", Pat was an active member in the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program, and was also a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, the Stratham Library Writers Group and the former Seacoast Writers Group. She was the author of two books of poetry, and her work has appeared in several anthologies.
Pat was also Professor Emerita at Chester College of New England, (formally White Pines College), where she taught for many years. A graduate of Swarthmore College, Pat obtained a Master's degree in American history from Radcliffe College (now part of Harvard University) in 1948.
She was communicant of St. Michael Church in Exeter, where she served for a time as home communion minister for shut-ins.
Pat is survived by four sons and their wives, William B. and Bernadette of Jupiter, Fl.; Edward J. and Ellen of Richmond, Va.; Lawrence J. and Janice of Lansdowne, Va.; and Howard D. and Mary of Falls Church, Va. Also survived by three nieces, Sarah Ailey, wife of Jack, of Chicago, Ill,; Beverly Klunk, wife of Brian, of Stockton, Calif.; and Jessica Herrink of King George, Va. There are 11 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; a nephew and his wife, Sean and Cindy Parnell of Easthampton, Mass.; and numerous grandnieces and nephews. Pat was predeceased by her husband of 62 years, Bill Parnell; and her sister, Ruth Herrink.
Pat was respected by her peers and friends as a brilliant writer, teacher and editor. She was actively writing poetry right up to the time of her passing, and always found love and comfort in the beauty of reading and writing. She was as smart as they come and touched countless lives through her teaching. She was proud of her four sons and loved her many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was compassionate and loved fiercely.
Anyone who knew Pat understood she was one of a kind. She lived a rich and fulfilling life, and was passionate about reading, writing, teaching, her faith, and her family.
She and Bill raised their four sons in Falls Church City, Va., where they were communicants in the Saint James Parish. Both were high school teachers in the Fairfax County School System for 20 years: she taught English and he taught history and civics. They were founding members of the Citizens for a Better City, active in the Falls Church Democratic Committee, and took on causes such as raising money to help build a community center for the city's youth and supporting housing desegregation efforts in the city.
In 1982, the couple "retired" to New Hampshire and Pat started the second phase of her teaching career at White Pines College, where she taught for many years. While living in Stratham, she joined her sister Ruth in purchasing the King George Journal in King George County, Va., and she served as co-owner and contributing editor for many years. She and Bill were active in the New Hampshire Democratic Committee and enjoyed traveling and organizing trips through the Elderhostel program.
After retiring from the college, Pat embraced her passion for writing full-time, and published two books: Snake Woman and Other Explorations, Finding the Female in Divinity, 2001, and Talking with Birches, Poems of Family in Everyday Life, 2004. She became a fixture in the New Hampshire Seacoast writing scene, authoring numerous poems, and often reading at "open mics" while encouraging other writers to share their work.
In memory of her, we share her poem Ritual, about her relationship with her husband, Bill:
Every morning he wakes me,
Gives me my first pill of the day,
Placing it carefully in my open palm.
I pick it up, right thumb and forefinger,
Place it in my mouth.
He hands me a cup
And I drink.
We both know.
Every gift given in love
Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Brewitt Funeral Home, 14 Pine St., Exeter. A Mass is scheduled for 11:00AM Friday at St. Michael Church, Exeter, with a light luncheon for the congregation after the service.
Interment will be in Old Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Va., at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Pat's memory to St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, St. Michael's Church, 9 Lincoln St., Exeter, NH 03833. To sign an online guest book, visit www.brewittfuneralhome.com.