Betty & Franklin Parker Looking Back Since 1946; 57 Years of a Good Idea; Thanksgiving 2007,

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Betty & Franklin Parker Looking Back Since 1946; 57 Years of a Good Idea; Thanksgiving 2007,

Happy Thanksgiving. We want to hear from you. We still live in Pleasant Hill, TN., but since changing to home delivery 2 years ago we have had this new address: Betty & Franklin Parker, 63 Heritage Loop, Crossville, TN 38571, E-mail: (Our past fuller Looking Back Christmas 2005 and 2006 messages are condensed below and updated).

We were children of the Great Depression, shaped by World War II upheavals. While Betty did well in grade school and high school, Frank took electrician trade classes in his vocational high school. During the job-scarce Depression he also took radio technician courses at FDR’s National Youth Administration residential trade school at Quoddy Village near Eastport, Maine.

After Pearl Harbor, at Army basic training interviews (Feb. 1942), Frank’s electrical-radio studies, recorded on IBM punched cards, probably led to his being sent to the Air Force Morse radio code school in Chicago’s Coliseum. When voice radio replaced Morse coders, Frank was sent to the Army Airways Communications System (AACS) headquarters, which had moved in early 1943 from crowded Washington, DC, to Asheville, NC. AACS personnel managed WWII air traffic control towers and later radar guidance systems.

Frank’s job in AACS publications was to update fast-changing classified Army, Air Force, and AACS regulations guiding headquarter planners in AACS worldwide operations, 1943 to early 1946. On discharge (Feb. 1946) Frank returned to Asheville, NC, took summer 1946 courses at what later became the Univ. of NC at Asheville, entered Berea College, Sept. 1946. His AACS experience led him to work, among other Berea College work/study jobs, in its Library Building.

We met in Sept. 1946 at Berea College, near Lexington, Ky. Having the same last name, taking some classes together, not wanting a nice friendship to end, we became engaged in May 1949. Frank earned a Berea College B.A. degree in English, Aug. ’49. In Sept. ’49 he entered the Univ. of Illinois’ (Urbana) graduate M.S. in library science program while working part time in the Univ. of Ill.’s undergraduate library. Betty graduated from Berea in June ’50, B.A., History. We were married June 12, ’50, in Decatur, Ala., and went together to the Univ. of Ill., where Frank finished his M.S. degree, Aug. ’50.

We taught first at Ferrum College, Va., (1950-’52) near Roanoke, which then had a Berea-like work/study program. Betty taught high school history and English. Frank was librarian and taught speech.

We took summer 1951 and summer ’52 graduate courses at George Peabody College for Teachers (hereafter Peabody), Nashville, adjacent to Vanderbilt Univ. (they merged in 1979), remaining from Sept. 1952 through Aug. ’56 graduation. Betty taught English in a Nashville business school, her pay a free apt. facing former Ward-Belmont School, just bought by TN Baptists, now Belmont Univ., where Frank later worked as part-time librarian and Betty was the president’s secretary and English instructor.

Four years of part-time work and graduate study at Peabody were an important turning point. Frank’s major study under respected History and Philosophy of Education Prof. Clifton L. Hall probably led Peabody Dean of Instruction Felix C. Robb to suggest that Frank undertake a dissertation on George Peabody’s (GP, 1795-1869) philanthropy. This Mass.-born merchant in the South, then London-based banker-broker (1838-69, J.P. Morgan’s father was GP’s partner) founded Peabody Museums at Harvard and Yale and in Salem, Mass.; Peabody Library and Conservatory of Music, Baltimore; and the multi-million dollar Peabody Education Fund (PEF, 1867-1914) to aid public schools in 11 Southern states plus W.Va. Peabody College of Vanderbilt Univ. is the PEF’s modern descendant.

Eager for the dissertation challenge, in May-Sept. 1954 we left our part-time Nashville jobs to read GP-related papers in these libraries: in D.C.: Lib. of Cong and National Archives. In Baltimore: Peabody Institute Library and Conservatory of Music, now part of Johns Hopkins Univ., and the Enoch Pratt Public Library. GP influenced both Johns Hopkins and Enoch Pratt. In NYC: Pierpont Morgan Library. In Salem, Mass.: Peabody Essex Museum (has most of GP’s papers and business records); GP papers in Mass. towns of Peabody, Danvers, and Boston, Mass.; then at Peabody Museums at Harvard and Yale.

For travel to London, England, where GP worked 30 years as a securities broker-banker, a Berea friend and part-time travel agent booked an inexpensive third class round trip ship berth for us. We read GP material at the British Library Manuscript Room and Colindale Newspaper Collection, Public Record Office, Guildhall Record Office, and Westminster Abbey (where GP’s body lay in state). We visited Peabody Homes where over 50,000 low income Londoners live in 20,000 affordable homes. Frank also read GP-Queen Victoria letters at Windsor Castle (she wanted to knight him but he declined, not willing to give up U.S. citizenship).

Back in Nashville, Jan. 1955, Frank worked part-time at Peabody, Betty taught English at Belmont Univ. Together we compiled our notes and microfilm into a “George Peabody, Founder of Modern Philanthropy” dissertation, a task hastened when Frank was invited to give the Feb. 18, 1955, Peabody Founders’ Day address (later published) to an overflow audience. In Aug. 1956, with the dissertation completed and accepted, Betty received the M.A. degree in English; Frank the Ed. D. degree in Education Foundations.

In late August 1956, faced with two job choices and on Betty’s urging, we declined a job offer for Frank to head an Okla. state college’s new library. He accepted instead a teaching job at State Univ. of NY, New Paltz, with Betty teaching high school English at nearby Wallkill, NY, 1956-57.

While we were still at Peabody, Aug. 1956, the visiting Univ. of Texas dean of education interviewed Frank, who explained that we were committed to SUNY, New Paltz. But the UT dean kept in touch, and with the dept. head’s approval hired Frank for the 1957-58 school year. Meanwhile, Frank won a competitive Kappa Delta Pi (Education Honor Society) Fellowship in International Education to study African education in the then multi-racial Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland in British central Africa. Informing his U. Texas employers of this fellowship, they graciously gave us leave of absence.

Africa expert Alan Pifer, then Carnegie Foundation president, helped us to join newly opened Univ. College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (UCR&N), in what is now Harare, Zimbabwe. We attended en route an Africanist conference at Hartford Seminary, CT; flew to London, attended a Cambridge Univ. British civil servants’ Africa conference, and reached what is now Zimbabwe via stops in Benghazi, Khartoum, Nairobi, Ndola, in what is now Zambia, and arrived in Salisbury (now Harare) and UCR&N, a multiracial university affiliated with the Univ. of London.

By renting in turn five houses from privileged Whites on long leave in England we saw first hand wide disparity between well-off White owners and poor African servants. Visiting many segregated White, African (mostly mission-run), and Asian schools, we soon saw that learning English as a second language was Africans’ key need in mastering other subjects. With UCR&N backing and White-run African Education Department cooperation, we organized the first ever multiracial federation-wide conference on that subject, led by key mission and government teachers, principals, inspectors; experts on teaching methods, on writing and distributing textbooks, on training teachers, etc. We recorded, edited, and distributed widely the conference proceedings. Using Harare government archives we later wrote African Development and Education in Southern Rhodesia, Ohio State Univ. Press, 1960, reprinted by Greenwood Press, 1971.

Back in the U.S., Aug. 1958, we moved to Austin, TX, where Frank taught large undergraduate classes, striving for good teaching and scholarly attainment. A U.S. Quaker family in Harare had told us of Austin’s American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) office where Betty went to work in peace education.

Frank, active in key national societies in his teaching fields from our 7 UT-Austin years (1957-64) onward, was the History of Education Society’s national president, 1963-64; the Comparative and International Education Society’s (CIES) vice president, 1963-64, CIES Secretary, 1965-68; editor of the CIES Newsletter, 1968-86; and Southwest Philosophy of Education Society’s (SWPES) president, 1960. At SWPES annual meetings, 1960-86, we presented original papers together in a dialogue form, all later published.

During Sept. 1961-May 1962, Frank was given U.TX.-Austin leave of absence as a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in what is now Zambia. After U.S. State Department orientation, Washington, DC, and U.S. Embassy in London orientation, we flew to the capital, Lusaka, were attached to nearby Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, from which we visited mission and government schools and did research in Lusaka’s national archives. In London May 1962 we did research at the British Library and returned to Austin. During 1962-63 Betty worked for several U-TX-Austin Bible professors and then taught in the U-TX-Austin Reading and Study Skills program

We enjoyed the 7 busy, satisfying U-TX-Austin years (1957-64). But in April 1964 a SWPES colleague, Univ. of Okla. in Norman, Philosophy of Education Prof. Lloyd P. Williams told Frank that he was wanted for an Excellence Fund tenured professorship. Interviewed, accepted, with Betty’s approval, we relocated to Norman (1964-68). Betty assisted Frank’s research and writing and was active on the League of Women Voters and regional AFSC boards.

In 1967, Frank’s U-Okla. dean, James G. Harlow, a prominent administrator, became president of West Va. Univ., Morgantown (WVU). He told Frank at a farewell gathering to keep in touch. In our fourth year at U-Okla-Norman, 1968, WVU’s Education Dean offered Frank a professorial chair funded by the Benedum Foundation. Betty agreed that the opportunity was too good to decline.

Frank’s 18 years as WVU Benedum Professor of Education, 1968-1986, were the busiest in our lives. He taught graduate classes and seminars in history and philosophy of education plus a specialty in Comparative and International Education. Betty, though active in League of Women Voters, United Methodist Women, and a book review group, was Frank’s full partner in research, writing, and editing articles and books. During 18 summers, free from WVU teaching, Frank taught in Canadian universities (Alberta, Newfoundland); and we traveled abroad studying schools in England, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Finland, USSR, Israel, China, about which we wrote books and articles. As editor of the Comparative and International Education Society newsletter, Frank reviewed relevant education publications, teaching tools, and travel opportunities for teachers.

Vanderbilt University Press published Franklin Parker, George Peabody, A Biography, 1971. During the WVU years Whitston Publishing Co. published our jointly edited 20 volume annotated bibliography series on education in various countries. Frank wrote on U.S. education, on several African countries, and obituaries of prominent scholars for encyclopedia yearbooks: Americana Annual, Collier’s Encyclopedia Yearbook, Compton’s Yearbook, Reader’s Digest Almanac & Yearbook, Encyclopedia of Education, McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Dictionary of American Biography, and other publications.

After WVU retirement in 1986 Frank taught part-time at Northern AZ Univ., Flagstaff (1986-89), and Western Carolina Univ., Cullowhee, NC (1989-94), eight happy years using good university libraries for research and writing. Frank published articles regularly in education honor society publications: Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Delta Kappa (life member of both); and in School & Society, which continued under several name changes.

Betty’s parents chose to live near us from 1977 for the rest of their lives, a wonderful time of sharing; in Morgantown, W.Va.; then near Flagstaff, AZ; then near Cullowhee, NC, where her Dad died in 1993. Care needed by Betty’s mother led us to Uplands Retirement Village, Pleasant Hill, TN, where she died in 1998. Both are buried in their hometown, Decatur, Ala. Betty’s younger sister and her husband, Jo Ann and George Weber, moved in 1996 near Sparta, TN, 11 miles from us.

When we moved to Uplands, Pleasant Hill, TN, May 5, 1994, we were updating the 1971 George Peabody, A Biography, which Vanderbilt University Press reissued in 1995 as part of bicentennial celebrations of George Peabody’s birth (1795). Working again on Peabody’s life story smoothed the transition to full retirement. An added impetus was preparing to give several speeches about him in his birthplace in Essex County, Mass., where we spent several days in March 1995.

At Uplands now over 13 years, we attend an exercise class 3 times a week, use a neighbor’s pool 6 times a week, walk as much as we can to various functions, have attended a few Elderhostels, and have every year for 13 years reviewed to an Uplands audience an important book in dialogue form. Frank has been able to get these reviews and our other writings published in blog form. Our current review of Walter Isaacson’s 2007 best seller on Albert Einstein will be given Apr. 21, 2008, Adshead, 10 A.M. (if you wish, we can send you a copy).

We end with this incident which happened in early Nov. 2007: A local yokel, often seeing us walking arm in arm, picnic lunch bags in hand, shouted from his parked battered pickup: “Grandpa, are you holding her up, or is she holding you up?” “We lean on each other,” Frank replied with a grin. Betty added: “If one falls, we both fall.” We left laughing. Fifty-seven years of a good idea. Keep in touch.

For a list of 153 of our publications go to: , type in: Franklin Parker, 1921- and you should get the following URL:

For full access to 42 of our blog articles, go to: , click Search the Web, type: , hit Search, and you should get the following URL:

For many more of our blog articles (with some duplications) go to:

To access free E-Book full contents of Franklin Parker, George Peabody, A Biography. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1995 rev. edn., go to:,M1

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