Charlie Parham

Charlie Parham

Charles Verne Parham Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA on June 30, 1945 to Charles Verne Parham and Jane Adair Parham. He had 2 siblings, Lamar and Mary Jane.

Charlie graduated Westminster schools in Atlanta in 1963. Several summers were spent at Camp Keewadin in Ontario, spending weeks portaging canoes through the northern Ontario wilderness. He would often tell of how he and his fellow campers used to hop on a swimming moose, and ride them across the lake! One summer, he worked at Disneyland, and kept the title of “Ride Operator in Fantasy Land” on his resume for life.

After the Atlanta Temple Bombing in 1958, Charlie developed a lifelong passion in support of civil rights, and met with Martin Luther King over dinner through his connections with the community.

Charlie attended Williams College in 1963, majoring in English literature, graduating with Honors in 1967. He was awarded a Rockefeller Brothers Theological Fellowship, attended Harvard Divinity School for one year, and later entered a graduate Education program at UMass. He spent his life working in Education: a summer teaching English in Hong Kong, 3 years working with rural teachers in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, and in the S. Hadley “Quest” program for gifted students.

Charlie met the love of his life in 1984 when he came to teach a word processing workshop at a school where Roxy was the English teacher. They married in 1986, and had two sons, Michael and Taylor. He taught his family how to appreciate learning, nature, and community. Charlie had an innate trust in people, and extended himself in ways that brought people together. He was an endless well of wisdom, curiosity, stories, and jokes.

In 1989, Charlie joined the Smith College Campus School as Curriculum Coordinator, where he worked to inspire both students and teachers. For the next 20 years he was involved in all aspects of the school, from assemblies to crossing guard.

Charlie played tennis on several local USTA teams, and was a member at the Amherst Golf Club, where he won several championships. He had an avid love for learning, literature, gardening, travel, cooking food, and wine. His retired years were spent auditing courses at the local colleges, and participating in the “Five College Learning in Retirement” program. He also was an active member of the Amherst Garden Club, planning their monthly outings and speakers. Charlie and Roxy were members of a book club that started in 1984, and after more than 250 books, Charlie could always recall names and plots from any of them.

Charlie passed away after a short illness on March 27. Donations in his memory will be used to purchase materials to build and donate toys to local pre-schools. Donations can be made to “Charlie’s Toys”- a division of “The Bogin Playscape Project”- c/o The Collaborative (97 Hawley St, Northampton MA 01060).

There will be a “Celebration of his Life” on June 30, 4:30 PM, at the Red Barn at Hampshire College.

Memorial register at

Further note:

Charlie died of an extremely aggressive prion-related degenerative brain disease. Diagnosed on February 25th while he and Roxy were vacationing in Florida, Charlie died just four weeks later.

To find out more about prion-related brain diseases, go to “What are human prion diseases?” on the website of the Prion Alliance, the only non-profit currently devoted to assisting research on prion-related brain diseases.  

Classmates interested in making a donation in Charlie’s name  to promote research on prion-related brain diseases should go to the Prion Alliance website and click on the “Donate” link.

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5 Responses to Charlie Parham

  1. John Way says:

    I am so sorry that we have lost Charlie Parham! I knew Charlie to have integrity, and I always liked and respected him.

    Oh, by the way at Keewaydin Camp in Northern Ontario, it IS possible to ride a moose while he is swimming in deep water. It is possible to paddle slightly faster than the moose can swim. It is best not to be on the moose when he reaches solid ground, however.

    I have done this myself, and often talked with Charlie about our shared common experience at Keewaydin. This is an accurate story.

    Well, we are all the same age. I wish his family and friends well at this time of great loss.

  2. John Hufnagel says:

    In May of 2016, Allan Stern and I went on a “one more road trip” tour of New England to inspire classmates to return for their 50th reunion the following year. We spent a wonderful evening with Charlie Parham and Roxy and one of their sons at their home in South Amherst, MA, talking about subjects from literature to gardening to moose riding and most importantly, to the joys of a rich life in our communities; he was organizing a neighborhood party the next day for his garden club, leaving his untamed lawn for another day.

    Charlie still had that southern disarming way, but with his wit and smile you couldn’t help but feel he was always thinking three steps ahead.

    I will remember him fondly and he will stay alive in me as he was that night.

  3. Harry Matthews says:

    Charlie Parham was one of the nicest people I have ever known. He was always kind, thoughtful, willing to listen, slow to make a judgement, quick to offer encouragement. I did not know him well, but every encounter I had with him was a pleasure, warm and charming and witty. In a world where so many prominent people reject the values he embraced, Charlie’s loss is especially painful.

  4. Lenny Goldberg says:

    I had the good fortune of having dinner with Charlie and Roxy this past fall at the invitation of Pete and Harriet Watson, who had the better fortune of spending several days with Charlie and Roxy here in Portland, Oregon. I remember Charlie quite well from classes and events we had together at Williams — and he looked exactly the same when we met up now! Youthful, soft spoken, a thoughtful lovely person. He and Roxy recommended a hotel in Bali that we stayed at and was wonderful, an experience I was hoping to share with him the next time we connected.

    It shows how little we can take for granted in this world and how much we must appreciate life while we have it.

    My deepest condolences to Roxy and his family, I’m so sorry for his loss.

  5. Peter Watson says:

    I was very saddened to learn of Charlie Parham’s untimely death. Charlie and Roxy spent a week with Harriet and me at our home in Portland this past fall. We hiked, shared stories, exchanged books, and enjoyed great meals, including a wonderfully memorable dinner with Katy and Lenny Goldberg.

    Charlie had been a good friend at Williams. He was consistently kind and considerate, with a soft-spoken sense of humor that just wouldn’t quit. We lost touch after graduation, but reconnected around the 50th reunion, pledging to keep our relationship more current.

    I’m certain that we’ll hear from many of our classmates attesting to Charlie’s all around good character and scholarly accomplishments. I’m sure I’m not the only one who misses him. I hope our memories of Charlie will serve as a reminder to all of us to maintain and deepen our relationships over time, when, for many reasons, that time may be all too short.

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