Share This Page

Architect, Ellis School alumna had passion for girls' education

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kathleen Oliver Parker

Kathleen “Kayo” Parker left Pittsburgh after grade school in 1939 to attend a boarding school in Massachusetts and then college in Vermont.

But she never forgot the friend she made here or the school where they became acquainted.

“We met in first grade at The Ellis School (in Shadyside) and remained close throughout our lives,” said Pittsburgh philanthropist Elsie Hillman. “I always saw her when she came to Pittsburgh, and we visited whenever I traveled to New York. She was wonderful fun to be with and always found humor in things. She'll be sorely missed.”Kathleen “Kayo” Oliver Parker died on Sunday, April 7, 2013, in New York City. She was 87.

A granddaughter of U.S. Sen. George T. Oliver, who represented Pennsylvania from 1909 to 1917, Mrs. Parker graduated in 1943 from Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Mass.

She received a degree in architecture in 1947 from Bennington College in Vermont and moved to New York, where she married and pursued a career in architecture.

“She was a great advocate for girls' education, and our girls always enjoyed her visits,” said Janis Martinson, chief advancement officer for Miss Hall's School, where Mrs. Parker established the Music Program Fund as a part of a permanent endowment in 2004.

“She liked to tell the girls about her first job in architecture and how they wanted her to be a typist, but she didn't know how to type. Of course, she went on to a very successful career in the field.”

Randie Benedict, head of school at Ellis since 2009, said Mrs. Parker “had an energy, passion and curiosity that was compelling.”

“I was always impressed at how current she was,” Benedict said. “During one of our first meetings, she asked me my thoughts about animated films and told me she had gone to see the film ‘Ratatouille' the day before.”

Benedict said Mrs. Parker was a strong advocate for all-girl schools such as Ellis, where she established the Kathleen Oliver Parker Endowed Faculty Chair in Visual Arts in 2008 and helped fund the Mary H. Grant Endowed Faculty Chair in History in 2011.

“She was a great friend of our school and talked about how attending Ellis not only gave her the confidence to go on to boarding school but was essential to her ability to chart her own path in life,” Benedict said.

Mrs. Parker was preceded in death by her husband, Paul Edward Parker Jr.

Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at The Brick Presbyterian Church, 62 E. 92nd St., in New York City.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.