LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. — Judith Stearns Parker, Ph.D., peacefully left her longtime home on Longboat Key, Fla., to meet her Lord and Savior on the evening of Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Dr. Parker was born on Aug. 6, 1940, in Burnham City Hospital in Champaign to only children Capt. Lewis F. and Flora Gene (Myers) Stearns, a direct descendant of Champaign County pioneer Moses Argo on her mother's side. Judy was raised by her grandparents (especially her beloved “Papaw” Waldo A. “Slim” Stearns) as well as her and her father's godmother, Mary Trost, initially in Urbana, then in Champaign.
While attending college, Judy met and married Ernest Kumerow of Chicago, a union which produced a son and a daughter. They later divorced. She then met and married the love of her life, Robert N. Parker of Mattoon, on Valentine's Day 1972, a 25-year union which produced a further son.
Bob lost his life in a plane crash at Tampa International Airport in October 1997, an incident in which Dr. Parker was the sole survivor of four on board, suffering 32 fractures and many surgeries and recoveries in the years ahead, all while grieving Bob's loss. She later married William F. Pillsbury of Chariton, Iowa, from whom she was estranged at the time of her passing.
Judy earned her bachelor's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a master's degree from Eastern Illinois University. She taught in the Mundelein and Mattoon public schools, and at the time of her retirement was an associate professor at EIU, placing and supervising student teachers throughout Illinois.
She raised her family in Prospect Heights, Champaign and Mattoon, and enjoyed the company of the many friends and colleagues she met along the way. Judy was clean and sober at the time of her passing, and a longtime friend of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. She was sad the many aftereffects of the plane crash and her Lyme disease robbed her of those friendships over the last 20 years.
Judy is survived by her estranged husband; her children, Kirk Kumerow (Fauziah) of Rochester, Ill.; Kari Parker of Katy, Texas, and Brett Parker (Enza) of Bradenton, Fla.; her seven grandchildren, Sara and Maryam Kumerow of Rochester, Ill., Annisa Kumerow (Alex Wacker) of St. Peters, Mo., Robert Kyrion Parker and Faith Ann Davis of Longboat Key, Fla., and Isabella and Giuliana Parker of Bradenton, Fla.; as well as her recent canine companion, Louie.
She was preceded in death by her parents, grandparents and godmother, and her previous husbands.
Judy was a secret St. Louis Cardinals fan and more open Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs fan, because all three of her husbands were Cubs fans, and above all she loved her Illinois Fighting Illini. Judy enjoyed AA meetings, times with her grandchildren and children; teaching and giraffes; and was forever grateful she made two trips the length of the east side of Africa.
Dr. Parker's family is being assisted by the Robert Toale and Sons Funeral Home – Wiegand Chapel in Sarasota, Fla., with cremation rites accorded. Due to the COVID-19 response measures in Florida and Illinois, private family internment of her and Bob's ashes in Woodlawn Cemetery in Urbana, with a separate memorial service for Judy, will occur at later dates.
Donations in her memory may be made to a Lyme disease charity, AMVETS or a local American Legion or VFW post, or a hug to the grandma of your choosing.
For online condolences for Judy, please visit www.wiegandbrothers.com.