Mary Ellen Parsons

Guilford 2010 Citizen of the Year

This year’s Citizen of the Year, awarded on Memorial Day is Mary Ellen Parsons. Mary Ellen was born in Guilford. She is the daughter of Hazel Dominic Carter Fellows and Warren James Fellows. She graduated Guilford School in 1956. She became Captain of the cheerleaders, and was a Majorette in the band. She also participated in school athletics program, the Visual Aids club, and was a member of the yearbook staff. She was also in both the Girls Glee Club and the Mixed Chorus.
After graduation, she worked at several places including Bendix, where in 1957, Mary Ellen met the man she was to marry, Ray Parsons. They were married on July 18, 1959, and over the next eleven years, they had six children, Ron, Carol, Suzanne, Mark, Stephen and Scott. Sadly, their first daughter Carol and twin brother Stephen did not survive.
Mary Ellen was both a Cub Scout and Girl Scout Den Mother, and also worked for several years on the Guilford Summer Program.
By 1970, Mary Ellen and Ray were the parents of four growing children, one with special needs. Each challenge they faced was met and conquered with perseverance, determination and love. She even took Braille Certification lessons, and became at that time only the second mother in New York State to have her Braille Certification.
Mary Ellen went to work at Guilford Elementary School in 1977, first as a volunteer, and then as a Title One Remedial Reading teacher. This position allowed her to work one on one with students who needed reading assistance. She often would tutor students outside of school and during the summer. It is a great thrill for her when those students come back these many years later to thank her.
Beginning in 1976 on the occasion of her twentieth, Mary Ellen began to hold class reunions for her fellow Guilford High School alumni. Over the next nineteen years, she held several more, culminating with the 1995 reunion at the Guilford Elementary School. Over ninety graduates and 350 people attended. Throughout it all, she worked tirelessly to track down former students. To this day, people still ask her “When are you going to have another reunion”. She even saved the middle panel and Guilford High School (GHS) insignia from the original curtains. This has been displayed at all of the reunions.
Mary Ellen began to work the polls for each general election, and did so up until last year. She would often take summer classes at SUNY Oneonta to stay current with her job requirements.
By 1988, she did library work at school in addition to her Title One teaching position, which was eliminated that year. She then became a Teacher’s Aid, as well as doing the after school Latchkey Program in 1992. She continued to work at Guilford Elementary until her retirement in November, 1995.
For two years during the 1990’s, she voluntarily served as the secretary to the Guilford Fire Commissioners. She has also worked at many church suppers, usually sitting in front, selling tickets.
She has been an active Guilford Historical Society (GHS) member for eight years, as well as being a GHS Trustee for the last two. She came up with the ideas for two of their most successful endeavours: the Guilford Houses and Structures Project, and the Veterans Recognition Ceremony that will follow this parade. She is the chair of the GHS Houses and Businesses committee; when it comes to remembering who lived where in town over the years, her memory is incredible. She is also on both the Christmas Cemetery Wreaths and Family History Committees.
Her organizational skills are outstanding; she can take anything and make it work. She is also a gifted writer, which is one thing that isn’t very well known about her. She’s very generous and is always willing to help with her time; she mostly works quietly behind the scenes. If you want something done, go talk to Mary Ellen.
As anybody who knows her will tell you, Mary Ellen is very devoted to and fiercely protective of both her family, and Guilford, her hometown. Her kindness and caring shine brightly, and that’s one of the many reasons why she was chosen as the Guilford Historical Society’s 2010 Citizen of the Year.
Congratulations Mary Ellen Parsons!

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Barb. says ... on Friday, Jun 11 at 9:54 AM

Way to go Mary Ellen---U deserved the award this year!

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