Sometimes, everyday words just fail. At a time when the folks at SITES are struggling to understand and cope with the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Parker Hayes, we need a panacea that's more powerful than letters strung together on a page. And yet here we are, typing away in the attempt to come to terms with an inexplicable loss. If only we could channel the voices of an Emily Dickinson or a Robert Browning, maybe they could help us convey our sense of sorrow and disbelief. Alas, even their words would fall short. We can only say with certainty that we will remember our friend with fondness and affection and that his presence is now part of the everlasting fabric of this office.
--Heather Shelton, SITES writer/editor
Please leave a comment, share a story, or just send condolences to Parker's family. We're sure they would appreciate your sentiments . . .
We have also includes excerpts from Parker's obituary:
"William Parker 'Parker' Hayes, Jr., age 36, of Washington, D.C., died unexpectedly at his home on August 2, 2009. Parker was Project Director of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and had resided in the Washington area for eleven years. He was born in Williamsburg, Virginia, on January 22, 1973, and spent his childhood in Belleville, Pennsylvania, where he lived for more than 20 years.
Parker is survived by his wife, Jennifer M. Schommer, also of Washington, DC, originally of Belgium, WI. They were married on September 13, 2008. Jennifer is also a member of the SITES family, serving as Assistant PR Director.
Parker is also survived by his father and mother, William P. Hayes, Sr., and Connie (Harpster) Hayes, of State College, PA; a sister, Margaret Hayes Aspinwall (husband Sam) of St. Petersburg, FL; a brother, Gregory T. Hayes (wife Meghan) of State College, PA; and grandmother, Margaret M. Harpster of Lewistown, PA. He was preceded in death by grandparents Glenn W. Harpster of Lewistown and A. Reed and Esther Pomeroy Hayes of Belleville PA.
Parker was a 1991 graduate of Indian Valley High School in Lewistown, PA. He earned his undergraduate degree in History and American Studies from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, in 1995. He received his master’s degree in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Cooperstown, NY, in 1997.
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, he was employed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and before that, the Airmen Memorial Museum in Suitland, MD, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
At the Smithsonian, he was the Project Director for two ground-breaking exhibitions. Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers was the Smithsonian’s largest traveling sports exhibition ever. Roberto Clemente: Beyond Baseball was a bilingual exhibition on a Latin American baseball player and humanitarian that traveled extensively to both museums and schools.
His master’s thesis on an itinerant 19th-century folk artist entitled, Drawn Home: Fritz Vogt’s Rural New York, became the foundation for unprecedented exhibitions at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown NY and the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City. His work was published in the fall 2000 issue of Folk Art, the Magazine of the Museum of American Folk Art.
While at the Airmen Memorial Museum, his investigation into the heroic death of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, a pararescueman in Vietnam, was instrumental to Pitsanbarger becoming the posthumous recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Parker was a member of the American Association of Museums and the Program Committee of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums. He was a lifelong member of Camp Hunter in Milroy, PA. He was a member of the Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity.
Parker was a sports enthusiast and an avid Phillies and Penn State fan. He enjoyed hiking, golf, tennis, hunting, softball, and volleyball. He was active as a player and a coach in D.C.’s Metro Sports Leagues and the historic Glover Park Softball League.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in the name of William Parker Hayes Jr. to: the National Parks Foundation, 1201 Eye Street, NW, Suite 550B, Washington, DC 20005, or at www.nationalparks.org."