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 www.douglassfuneral.com
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.