Libby Parker at the front desk, 2012. WHS collections 2012.5.15, photo by Deborah Parker, gift of Elizabeth Parker.
Last week, we lost one of our amazing volunteers, Libby Parker, who anchored our reception desk each Wednesday afternoon well into her nineties. She loved the Town of Windsor and its history with a passion and was truly an involved citizen. Whenever there was a shadow of a threat to an historic statue or building, we’d get a call. Libby will be buried in red, white, and blue, with her American flag brooch on her lapel. We will miss her tremendously.
Back in 2012, WHS administrative assistant Connie Thomas interviewed Libby for a volunteer profile in our newsletter. To honor her memory, we’re re-publishing it here now, along with a transcript of an oral history interview she gave in 2010 to then Society educator Julia Baldini.
When and why did you start volunteering at the Society?
Probably around 1985 I served as a docent. This was before the 1990 Mills Building was constructed, so the visitors welcome area was a small office on the south side of the Strong House. Mrs. Hillemeier was the Society’s director, and I remember typing a lot of scripts for school tours on a typewriter. Visitors came to see the Lt. Walter Fyler House mostly [now known as the Strong-Howard House]. There weren’t that many researchers then.
What influenced you to develop an interest in Windsor’s history?
I started volunteering because my neighbor, Peg Martindale, said I was putting in too many hours helping at the nursing homes and the Society was a fun place, so I came weekly. My parents and in-laws had always been members, and my Windsor roots go back to the Gaylord, Newberry, and Clark families. My husband Frank and I have always promoted Windsor by belonging to the church, fraternal organizations, and the Chamber of Commerce.
What are some of the memorable events at the Society you like to recall?
I’ve always enjoyed doing tours. In the early 1990s there were always two people sitting at the front desk so we could socialize. Before that, the tours included the basement of the Wilson Museum where visitors could see a large ship’s model, an Eddy Electric Company motor, and Indian arrowheads. I greatly enjoyed the tea parties when Doris Butler and I were responsible for dressing up a table with our china and silver for ticket holders. I served on the Board of Directors.
What do you enjoy about volunteering now?
I enjoy being with the staff. I’m no longer physically able to give tours, but I enjoy helping visitors at the front desk. It always amazes me when I discover a little more about the town’s history and how my family fits into it.
Libby’s energy and enthusiasm for her volunteerism was a Windsor treasure! She and my mother Mary Clark Giffin (in the picture)were great friends since they were school girls…and are no doubt volunteering together up in Heaven.
Martha, during my Mother’s last few weeks she repeatedly called out for your Mother. We were unable to discern why, but thought you would want to know. I am guessing that your Mother was likely at the gate to welcome her! Am sure they are picking up were they left off! Thank you for your kind words.
Oh my! I’m out of state now but just learning of Libby’s passing. She was one of my FAVORITE volunteers when I worked at WHS and I was incredibly honored to conduct her oral history. She was a strong woman. I will miss her and I know the Society will too.
Pardon me but I wanted to ask if perhaps this Ms. Elizabeth Parker would have had the maiden name Davis? Or had a relation to an Elizabeth Davis? I am sorry for your loss and I hope I am not nm posting inappropriately. I’ve been trying to find out about my mother. Please email me if youd like to chat.
This Elizabeth Parker’s maiden name was Bryant. Her mother’s maiden name was Hawley. I’m not aware of any Davises in her genealogy. Sorry.