Friday, December 11, 2009

The Passing of a Legend

It's with a heavy heart that I pass on the news of Ms. Linda Bates-Parker's death. She passed away yesterday after her long battle with cancer.
Ms. Bates-Parker - more commonly called Ma Parker among RAPPers - IS the foundation upon which our program stands. She was the staff person who led the group of students in the creation and growth of RAPP. Without her, there would be no RAPP, and UC would be a much worse place.
Word of her passing is just getting out to the community and details on arrangements are yet to be announced. I will certainly pass along information as I get it.
I spoke with Ms. Bates-Parker by phone mostly. She offered herself as a support for me in my new role. I had been so nervous to meet her because she, to me, IS RAPP - she founded it, she's got the knowledge and experience, and most important she's wise. I felt like a toddler stepping into a giant's shoes - but she immediately made me feel comfort and let me know when I'd earned her trust.
I wanted to share my most recent memory of Ms. Bates-Parker to show how impactful she has been on me, and on RAPP in its current form. I was re-writing some documents and mentioned to her that I'd like to start bringing her name in more - to name an award after her and put her as our founder. She cut me off and said "no, it should be about the students - they're the ones who made it happen." Her humility and desire to put the spotlight on others touched me. It reminded me - and I share this with others in leadership roles in RAPP - that our program isn't about the leaders, it's about the members. RAPPers make RAPP what it is, make RAPP work - not the facilitators.
This picture is from Ma Parker at the very first RAPP retreat in 1986. She has remained connected and directed our program since then in so many ways. And, we are just a small part of the amazing legacy Ms. Bates-Parker has left in the world. She has touched more lives than anyone I know, she has helped more people achieve greatness than anyone I've ever heard of. Thank you for all that you've done for so, so many, Ma Parker!

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