January 19, 1914 ~ July 11, 2007
Margaret Virginia Lambertson Parker
January 19, 1914 - July 11, 2007
Margaret Lambertson Parker, a Hermosa resident for more than seventy years, and widow of the Rev. Dr. Richard Parker, the longtime rector of St. Cross Episcopal Church, died at her home on July 11. She was 93.
She first came to the South Bay in 1939, and soon after moved into the Hermosa home where she lived the rest of her life.
Born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1914, Margaret spent her childhood on farms and in small towns and mid-sized cities in the Upper Midwest. Her father, James Lambertson, was a successful banker and the family's frequent relocations produced in Margaret an adventurous nature--curious, friendly, and adaptable--that she maintained throughout her long life.
School was always a pleasure for her: she was an outstanding student, and in 1931 she graduated from Sioux Falls high school, intending to enroll in college that fall--still an uncommon choice for women, but one encouraged by her parents. In 1931, however, the Depression made the prospect of college impossible. Instead, she trained as a secretary at the local business college.
Three years later she bought a train ticket to Southern California and the beginnings of a new life. A few years later, at the end of a Sunday church service she met her future husband, Rev. Richard Parker, a young assistant minister at St. James Episcopal Church, Los Angeles. Five years later they were married.
Over the next quarter century, they together worked to raise not only their three sons, but also a vibrant congregation at St. Cross. From a tiny wooden parish, the church rapidly grew to over 3, 500 members, four services each Sunday, and a Sunday school of over 1, 000 children. For most of those years, Margaret ran the church's nursery, led a women's guild, and served as her husband's trusted confidante and counselor.
In the early 1970s, her church activism took on new direction and purpose. With her sons away by then in college, she became involved in local and then statewide work, first with Episcopal women's groups, then as head of Churchwomen United, an interdenominational alliance that helped pave the way for the ordination of women as well as vastly increased rights and responsibilities for them throughout the Mainline Protestant churches of America. In 1976, St. Cross became one of the very first Episcopal parishes in the US to hire a female assistant rector. It was an achievement in which both she and her husband took great pride.
In 1981 Margaret co-founded the Today's Women conference to serve the needs of working women, who were increasingly unable to attend traditional Episcopal Church women meetings during the day and had a new set of concerns about their roles in the church and the world.
Parker also served for many years on the Editorial Board of The Episcopal News, and for a time wrote a column, called "News & Notes" that reported on parish and mission activities.
Women's rights were far from her only concern, however. Working through the parish, she and her husband helped create 1736 House, the pioneering South Bay social service agency, as well as the area's first free medical clinic; together they campaigned successfully for the construction of more than 400 units of for low-income and senior housing, and in their later years actively supported campaigns for gay and lesbian rights, the living wage, and nuclear arms reduction.
Recognizing her many contributions, the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles three years ago named her an honorary canon of the church, a distinction that for years had been denied to women.
Her husband passed away fifteen years ago; she is survived by her three sons, Richard of Cambridge, MA, George Stephen of Hermosa Beach, and David of New York City, and her daughter-in-law, Robin, and two grandsons, Sam and Tom Parker. A memorial service and reception will be held on August 1, 2007 at 11:00am at St. Cross Church, Hermosa Beach. Those wishing to make a donation may do so in her name at: Margaret Parker Memorial Fund, c/o St. Cross Church, 1818 Monterey Blvd., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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