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Julie Parker, Mrs. Goodwill, has a happy 80th birthday

Julie Parker, Mrs. Goodwill, has a happy 80th birthday






It's fun honoring Julie Parker, manager of the Goodwill Industries store at 336 North St. She becomes so excited and is so obviously pleased if people make a fuss over her. That and the fact that she is a most unusual lady are probably the reasons her co-workers were happy to throw a party for her yesterday at the store in observance of her birthday. Julie was 80 on New Year's day.

A little more than a year ago they honored her with a bouquet of flowers and many words of praise on the 20th anniversary of the store which Mrs. Parker founded in May 1953.

In addition to flowers, plants and the usual greetings, yesterday she was presented a huge birthday cake baked by Mrs. Carol Cal, Goodwill telephone operator.

Mrs. Parker, widow of former Eagle columnist Charles K. Parker, is a native of Japan. She came with her husband to New York from Japan in the first exchange of World War I prisoners in 1942. Two years later she was teaching Japanese language to Army and Navy officers in training courses at Yale University. She also was active in Red Cross work.

Mrs. Parker originated the Pittsfield branch of Goodwill when she started collecting articles to send in packages to Japan. When her cellar was overflowing with donated material and the project became too much for her, she wrote to the Good- will Industries office in Boston. The first Goodwill store here was on South Street.

In 1965, Mrs. Parker was honored and presented a "Good Willy" gold statuette in appreciation of her services. The Pittsfield Business and Professional Women's Association honored Julie with a "This is Your Life" program in 1967.

Mrs. Parker is a very vigorous 80. She walks to work every day from her home at 63 Pomeroy Ave. - a distance of six blocks - no matter what the weather.                     

"Oh my, oh my, oh my. What a surprise," Mrs. Parker repeated several times yesterday in her mellifluous voice. "May I thank you? Oh, really, what am I going to do?" with polite little Japanese bows. And after the cake was presented, "Oh, I can't cut this, please help."

Her excitement, apparent confusion and helplessness were transformed to calm efficiency when customers stopped by the desk to inquire about prices on certain items. She immediately became more sure of herself. "They are a dollar each," she told a woman who enquired about children's white fur muffs, and answered several other inquiries quickly and efficiently.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle. Reprinted with permission from The Berkshire Eagle. © BerkshireEagle