Remembering John Parker

John Parker (with Georgette) in November, 2013, about six months before his death on May 11, 2014

You can still visit his remarkable home through photographs


His untimely death

As everyone who knew John Parker knows by now, he was felled by stroke. He apparently had one or more smaller strokes first, then one or more massive strokes.

Some say John Parker's Christian Science beliefs were to blame for his death. After all, don't Christian Scientists prefer to rely on prayer for healing rather than medical care? Many Christian Scientists do avoid standard medical care, and many have notoriously denied it even to their own children. John Parker's wife, Rose, who had been a devout Christian Scientist all her life, died from the complications of diabetes, which she chose not to seek medical treatment for. John converted to Christian Science sometime after meeting Rose. So was his death his fault because he chose not to seek medical attention when he needed it? — that is, assuming that he had the wherewithal to make such a choice at the time he needed to make it.

John Parker was well known in the neighborhood for rolling out the trash bins of many of his neighbors on trash pickup day, then rolling them back in, routines he performed religiously and in all weather for years. But John did not wear his religion on his sleeve, if indeed religion was what motiviated him to perform these humble and generous services. Some people who had known him for years knew nothing about his particular religious beliefs, though they may have known that every Sunday he attended a Christian Science church.

It might be noted that not all Christian Scientists, including Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, herself, rigidly rejected all medical care. But it is not unusual for some followers of a religious leader to distort that leader's teachings.

From "Suffering Children and the Christian Science Church" by Caroline Fraser,, April 1995 (a must read for anyone interested in Christian Science): "As everyone from Mark Twain to the police detective who investigated the case of Ashley King has noticed, Christian Scientists wear eyeglasses, go to dentists, use canes. Mary Baker Eddy suggested that Church members who did not find healing through her methods might go to a doctor. She herself did. Robert Peel, who wrote the definitive biography of Eddy, documented her use of morphine to ease the pain of kidney stones."

It should be mentioned, too, that a couple of months before his death, John Parker told friends that he was worried about eye surgery for his worsening cataracts, since he was contemplating having that medical procedure done — after all, John did love to read. Plus he had already had cataract surgery performed on his dog, Noah.

Just as there are said to be no atheists in fox holes, a person might not be so sanguine about a religious belief that requires him to avoid medical care when he is staring death in the face — and he is capable of realizing it.


How did John Parker die?

The day after someone called 911 and John Parker finally went to the hospital, the person who would be the executrix of his estate sent out an email that reported the following:

Lastly, details... we are still trying to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. But below are the series of events as I understand them:

- Tuesday: John was unable to take out the trash cans last Tuesday, something he has taken on diligently for many, many years for more than 20 houses. He said this was due to his vision deteriorating. We are not sure if this wasn't actually due to a small stroke.
- John wasn't out and about in the neighborhood this week, nor was he answering the door or phone calls.
- Friday: A few neighbors, including an MD, were able to speak with him in his house on Friday. John's demeanor was unusual, and he "wasn't himself" and not very lucid. Although, he was able to go up the stairs. The doctor thought he showed signs of having some stroke activity, but John's belief system as a Christian Scientist prevented him from wanting to go to the doctor at that time.
- Saturday: Neighbors noticed that John had fallen on his front porch in the AM. He agreed to go to the hospital. An ambulance was called. While in the ER, the medical staff confirmed that he had had a stroke; moreover, he had another stroke while in the ER.



More questions...

Have any more of the pieces of this puzzle been put together? Are the answers to any of the following questions forthcoming?

Was it true that John Parker remained holed up in his house for days without anyone looking in on him or otherwise contacting him — or even calling the police? How was it that people "were able to speak with him in his house on Friday"? Did he finally open his door to them at that time?

When the "few neighbors, including an MD" spoke with John Parker, and the doctor suspected "stroke activity," how did they arrive at the decision not to call 911 immediately? Did they have a discussion with John Parker, whose "deameanor was unusual" and who "wasn't himself"? Who was the medical doctor who was present?

The next morning, when someone else finally called 911, John Parker "agreed to go to the hospital." Had he changed his mind by then? Was he now more himself or still not himself? Had he really suffered a fall "on his porch steps," as reported — perhaps mistakenly? — or was he merely sitting on his steps, as others have said?

A puzzle indeed.


Stroke happens FAST. Call 911.

Common Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.



Remember, when stroke strikes, every minute counts.

Get the FACTS about stroke — FAST!





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