Dr. Virginia Parker: Professor's Loss Leads to Endowment
Virginia Parker,MSU Denver professor emeritus and longtime Accounting Department chair, lost her mother, Katherine Foote Parker, in March 2010. She recounts the early days of her mother's dementia in a book called "Return to Joy" that she co-authored with her sister Charlotte Parker. The story, however, began long before the illness and will continue long past the initial grief, thanks to endowments from her mother's estate.
Funding for the endowments comes from a trust Foote Parker set up in the late 1990s, with MSU Denver as one of the beneficiaries. Current endowment plans include support for the University's new Master of Professional Accountancy Program, via both a scholarship and a faculty award.
"My mother came from a long line of educators," Parker says. This includes Foote Parker's mother, who was born in 1890 and attended college when such opportunities were still quite rare. "My mother was a teacher, and my mother truly believed that education could solve the problems of the world, in spite of a lack of solid evidence to support that," says Parker, teasing just a bit.
Parker retired nine years ago from MSU Denver, after some 25 years on campus. She jokes that her post-retirement, mid-life crisis involved buying mules and moving to a 110-acre ranch in Montana.
Her family now includes a female Australian shepherd named Rowdy and three equine males-Spike (her first mule), Maynard (her horse) and a second mule, Amos.
"I've always wanted to be a cowgirl," Parker says. "I grew up in Texas, and I was exposed to a lot of the Western mentality, the movies that were around at the time and the rodeos coming to town, so it was hard not to have that dream."
Because of family obligations elsewhere, Parker and her partner pack up all the critters and embark upon cross-country road trips, with stops at stables and other equine-friendly spots as well as her sister's ranch in Texas.
They've wintered at the Florida Carriage Museum and Resort, where they tried Spike out as a carriage puller. "But, he wasn't a good candidate for that," Parker says, "unless you didn't care where you ended up." The kids loved him, though.
There is a second trust, the remainder of which will also transfer on to Metro State, after Parker and her sister pass on, but Parker says, "Let's hope that's not relevant anytime soon."
After all, many cowgirl and Montana winter adventures await.
– Roxanne Hawn
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