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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Mary Patricia “Pat” Parsons, Former Staff

Mary Patricia “Pat” Parsons was born on September 20, 1941 in Roselle, New Jersey to the late Royal I. Parsons, Sr. and Elsie (Conover) Parsons, and passed away June 29, 2019.

Pat was born on the day after the family moved into the house on East 8th Avenue and resided there much of her life. She was the second youngest of the eight children. “Pat,” as she was affectionately called, will be remembered by family and friends for her kind and giving nature such as cooking for people who were sick or extending an invitation for people to stay. She hosted many family gatherings while living with her mother at the family homestead, and made everyone feel welcome and special.

Pat was very active in school and had a love of music and art. She started school at Chestnut Street School and attended Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, New Jersey. In high school, she was involved in many activities and was popular with both classmates and teachers. She served as captain of the varsity cheerleading squad and a member of the Glee Club and National Honor Society. Early in life, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior while attending Second Baptist Church.

Pat studied at New York University where she took art classes and created beautiful drawings and paintings for years at The Art Students’ League in New York. Her work was exhibited in the gallery. Pat enjoyed road trips across the country to northern or southern California with many stops in between or up to Martha’s Vineyard in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her friends. A passion for higher education, she worked at New York University and transitioned to New York University Rehabilitation Institute.

Due to her work ethic, communication and organizational skills, she was employed by Dr. William Birenbaum at Long Island University as his Administrative Assistant. She worked with Dr. Birenbaum for 25 years and eventually became his Executive Assistant and member of various committees at these institutions. Pat enjoyed her interactions with the students and meeting with various dignitaries who came to the college as speakers and lecturers.

During her tenure with Dr. Birenbaum, she worked at Long Island University, Staten Island Community College and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

One of the highlights of her career was working for the Education Affiliate of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation which was the first Community Development agency in the country. She met many community and civil rights leaders like James Farmer, who headed the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and organized the historic freedom rides of 1961 and also Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was involved in the legislation that led to the inception of the community organization in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

In 1963, she also attended the “March for Civil Rights” in Washington, DC. Pat moved to Washington, DC in 1986 to work as the Personal Executive Assistant to Anna Chenault, a Chinese-born Republican fund-raiser and anti-Communist lobbyist, who dabbled in foreign intrigue. As a liberal Democrat, this pairing was short lived, and Pat moved back to New Jersey to work for Strategic Insight, a New York company that provides information to the global asset marketing communities. Her character expressed a desire to improve the lives of others through love, education, mentoring, art and exceptional gourmet cooking. On Saturday June 29, 2019, Mary Patricia Parsons passed away at Green Acres in Toms River, New Jersey where she resided since 2016.

She was predeceased by his siblings: Margaret Pauline Lee, Elise H. Cox, Julia Betty Stevenson, Dorothy M. Boston and Royal I. Parsons, Jr. Pat leaves to cherish precious memories, her two sisters: Almeda Thompson of Scotch Plains, NJ and Elaine Pastras of Los Angeles, CA; nieces and nephews: Nancy Thompson-Brown (Julian), Cathy Thompson-Fix, David W. Thompson (Adriene), James Parsons (Shirl), Elena Parsons, Gwyn Roberts (Bobby), Emily Kimbro, Clifton Cox, Jr. (Sandy), Craig Cox (Hilda) and Jennifer Parsons; and a host of extended relatives and cherished friends. Pat will be sorely missed by those who knew and loved her.