My name is Lori Best-Godin and I am honored to share a few memories with you about a very special lady, Winnie Parlee.
Winnona Mary Anna Parlee was born in Hillsdale on May 14, 1940. She was the daughter of the late Austin and Mary Johnston. Winnie came from a large family. Being a member of such a large and loving family, might have been one of the reasons that Winnie chose the teaching profession. She was a natural born teacher and leader.
When meeting with Mac, Lenora, David, Hannah, Sarah, and Kevin many happy memories were shared. Like any good story, we have to start at the beginning.
Winnie and Mac met when they were eighteen. She boarded with Mac's Aunt in Hampton. Winnie's cousin Rowena introduced Winnie and Malcolm. This was the beginning of a loving relationship that led to 57 years of marriage.
Winnie was married when she was nineteen, but she was quick to tell everyone that the very next month she was going to be twenty. Mac remembers bringing peanuts to treat Winnie's brothers, when he came to pick Winnie up. With Mac's winning personality, he quickly became one of the family.
Winnie and Mac welcomed a daughter Lenora Anne on July 10, 1965 and to say that they were proud of their little girl, would be an understatement! Winnie even had Lenora in July, so she could go back to work in September. No maternity leaves back then. Winnie and Mac were extremely proud of Lenora and they enjoyed a wonderful life in Apohaqui. Watching Lenora grow up and become a teacher, a wife, and a mother, were wonderful gifts to Winnie and Mac.
Winnie balanced working, being a wife and a mother, keeping the books for Mac's business, and feeding all the workers. Mac told us that Winnie could have supper ready anytime from 5:00pm to midnight every day. Winnie was a team player. Lenora even recalls a day that Mac left Winnie a dump truck to drive to work, and she did! She could do anything she set her mind to do.
And then the Grandchildren came along! Winnie and Mac were absolutely delighted to be Grandparents to Hannah and Sarah. When Hannah was four years old she convinced Grammie that it was okay for her to drive in the front seat. In fact, she told her Grandmother that her Mom let her drive in the front seat all the time. You can imagine Lenora and David's surprise when Winnie and Hannah returned to their house, with Hannah riding shotgun.
Winnie's house was a welcome spot for all visitors, especially Hannah and Sarah. The spare bedrooms were designated Hannah's room and Sarah's room. When Hannah or Sarah were in a little trouble at home, Grammie's house was a haven.
It was communicated to me that once when Hannah accidentally shut the door on the cat's tail, Winnie took Hannah shopping at Connie's Collectables to purchase a Webkin. Winnie knew that Hannah felt terrible about the cat. Meanwhile, Lenora and Sarah took the cat to the vet.
Sarah fondly remembers sleep overs at Grammie's house. Hannah would want to come home and Sarah would rub her back and tell her that it would be okay. These sisters share a special bond.
Hannah and Sarah told me that Grammie always had lots of food. Poptarts and ice-cream were special treats and you could even have a snack at midnight, if you were hungry. Grammies house was special!
David also has fond memories of Winnie. After suppers at Winnie and Macs, David often found himself feeling ill. Lenora, Hannah, and Sarah were all feeling fine. David joked with Lenora that she would have to call Winnie and tell her to stop poking needles in the Voo-doo doll. He even went so far as to switch plates with Lenora, but he still came home with a sore stomach.
Winnie thought the world of David. She could not have picked a better husband for Lenora. Meeting David filled Winnie with happiness and she often told me how thrilled she was Lenora and David found each other.
Winnie and Mac had a great love of travel. Hawaii, Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, and Texas, just to name a few. Florida was definitely a favorite destination. Winnie loved to ride her bike around the park and Mac told me that she played a good game of shuffleboard too. Many happy memories and wonderful friendships were created from those special times in Florida.
Many happy times were spent with family and friends. Winnie so enjoyed her Friday morning breakfast club and her Sunday morning breakfast club with her friends. Winnie and Mac enjoyed playing cards and attending many social functions. I can still remember Winnie and Mac playing the spoons at an AES staff party at Lori and Harold's.
Winnie was my principal at Apohaqui Elementary. She was kind, fair, and she had a fantastic sense of humor. Winnie enjoyed the bling! She loved a great jacket, tank top, and she had beautiful jewelry to set off every outfit. Winnie made parents, students, and teachers feel that they could do anything. Late night might have Jimmy Fallon, but AES had lunch times with Winnie. Teachers would literally run to the staffroom at noon to hear the stories that Winnie would share.
It was on one of these noon breaks that Winnie looked out the window and spotted a grade six boy leaving the school ground to go to Jones store. Without missing a beat, Winnie picked up the phone and called the store. She asked to talk to this boy. She got him on the line and told him that he had twenty seconds to return to the school. Then she proceeded to get on the P.A. system and start counting down from 20. We looked out the staffroom window and watched this student practically fly back to the playground. It was his one and only trip to the store that year!
Winnie was a kind person, a compassionate person, and a person who loved to laugh. She genuinely cared about people and she had the wonderful ability to make everyone feel special. We will all miss Winnie greatly, but we are better people for having known her. When you hear a good joke, spend time with a friend, or do something kind for another person, think of Winnie. She would like that.