Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 2, 2012

Mrs. Roosevelt pays a visit to Pleasant Hill

CROSSVILLE — Franklin and Betty Parker of Pleasant Hill have been and are still extensive researchers and prolific writers. As teachers, librarians, researchers, professors, writers, editors, their combined careers led them to venues around the world and back again. Musing on this journey, they state, “After almost 18 years here, we realize that settling in Pleasant Hill brought us back to the area where we met and received our higher education, a wonderful homecoming.  We are four-driving hours from Berea College, Berea, KY, where we met in 1946 (married 1950) and a two-hour drive from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, where we attended graduate school.  Those colleges made possible all the opportunities we have enjoyed throughout our lives together.”

Their latest joint venture was their 17th yearly dialogue for the Pleasant Hill Book Review Group, which explored the life and influence of Eleanor Roosevelt following last year’s presentation on Franklin Roosevelt. They wanted to show Eleanor’s accomplishments and influence on FDR. Betty took on the persona of Eleanor as Frank fed her probing questions. Their popularity and acknowledged astuteness were reflected in the largest audience the Review group has ever had. Some of the books they have reviewed in this way were Thomas (Tip) O'Neill, Man of the House; Myles Horton; Abraham Flexner, Karen Armstrong; Arthur Miller, Timebends; Stephen Hawking, A History of Time; The Kennedys; and Albert Einstein (based on biography by Walter Isaacson). In 1991, they presented a dialogue on "Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman philosopher" for the Southwest Philosophy of Education Society in Texas.

Frank wrote and Betty edited his doctoral dissertation on George Peabody in 1956, which was defended, accepted, and later published by Vanderbilt University Press as George Peabody, a Biography, 1971.  In 1995 on the 200th anniversary of George Peabody’s birth, Frank’s updated version was republished with 12 illustrations. Their fascination with the largely forgotten founder of modern educational philanthropy, George Peabody, took them to London, changed their lives, and led them to 27 trips abroad.

Betty earned the Berea B.A. degree in 1950, and a M.A. degree from George Peabody College for Teachers in 1956. She taught high school and college English, reading and social studies; was secretary to two college presidents; served on regional and local executive boards of the American Friends Service Committee, League of Women Voters, and United Methodist Women.

A competitive Kappa Delta Pi (education honor society) Fellowship in International Education took them to Africa for eight months during 1957-58. The British south central African colonies of Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe), and Nyasaland (later Malawi) had formed a multiracial federation. Frank's small book about their 1957-58 experience, African Development and Education in Southern Rhodesia, Ohio State University Press, 1960, led to Frank's being asked to contribute articles about Africa to encyclopedia yearbooks: Americana, World Book, Collier's, others, for over a decade. Frank emphasized more and more international education during his 40 years of teaching at the Universities of Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Northern Arizona and Western Carolina. He felt that teachers with intercultural-international understanding could help new student generations build a more peaceful world.  s longtime editor of the Comparative and International Education Society Newsletter, Frank learned of and publicized low-cost travel and international study opportunities for students and teachers.

To access 30+ of their recent articles in blog form, go to Do a Google search for Franklin and Betty J. Parker, TN and you will find numerous links to articles about them or written by them. Their list of publications would take many more columns. At ages 82 and 90, the Parkers, participate and lead exercise classes, swim at least 6 times a week, walk all over Pleasant Hill, are the neighborhood confidantes and “go to” people for information and caring concern. Frank recently has become a percussionist with the Pleasant Hill Ensemble, although he cannot read a note of music. They laugh about an incident which happened in early Nov. 2007: “A local, often seeing us walking arm in arm, picnic lunch bags in hand, shouted from his parked 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.’ Sixty-one years of a good idea.” 

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