- Steve Bensman
RECOLLECTIONS OF MRS. JENNIE ZION MAX AS TOLD TO HER DAUGHTER, ETHEL MAX PARKER, CIRCA 1964, BEFORE MRS. JENNIE ZION MAX'S DEATH IN 1964
"Printed by permission of the Wisconsin State Journal "
September 16, 1999, Thursday,
ETHEL MAX PARKER, JOURNALIST, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER, DIES
Capital Times (Madison, WI.), September 15, 1999
"Printed by permission of the Capital Times (Madison, WI.) "
Copyright 1999 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Capital Times (Madison, WI.)
Ethel Max Parker, the first woman to become a general news reporter for The Capital Times and the widow of Cedric Parker, the newspaper's late city and managing editor, died earlier this week. She would have been 98 on Oct. 2.
Mrs. Parker joined The Capital Times staff in the 1920s, just a few years after the paper's 1917 founding. While there were women employed in the ''society'' department, she was the first of her gender to cover police and government stories out of city hall.
''She was an inspiration for a lot of people,'' said John Patrick Hunter, a longtime reporter and editor at The Capital Times, now retired.
''She was a unique person in a profession where women were still trying to prove their worth,'' Hunter said.
A native of Sheboygan, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin's Journalism School in 1928 while working at the newspaper. She continued her reporting career into the 1930s.
She returned to Sheboygan to teach later in the '30s and through World War II. After the war she returned to Madison to re-enter the university, where she earned her master's degree in English and education.
In 1951, she married Cedric Parker, who was then known as the ''controversial city editor'' of The Capital Times. Parker had numerous run-ins with Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who frequently referred to the newspaperman as a communist.
Although Cedric and Ethel shared political views grounded in progressivism, their personalities were poles apart, recalled retired Capital Times reporter Owen Coyle.
''She was very much a lady, a refined lady,'' Coyle said today. ''Cedric, of course, was this loud, gregarious guy.''
Somehow, that match worked, and the two were married until Cedric Parker's death in 1978.
After her stint at The Capital Times Mrs. Parker continued to blaze trails, becoming one of the first women in public relations work in Madison.
She became the public information officer for the Dane County Chapter of the American Red Cross, but remained close to the newspaper through her husband.
Throughout her life, she served as a volunteer for several organizations and was particularly active in Theta Sigma Phi, a sorority that later became Women in Communications. The organization awarded her its Writer's Cup.
''No one could carry on a conversation about Madison and state politics better than Ethel Parker,'' said Dave Zweifel, editor of The Capital Times. ''She simply adored Cedric and the newspaper he worked for. Anyone who knew her has fond memories of her.''
Mrs. Parker, who died Monday at St. Marys Care Center, is survived by two sisters and three brothers.
A memorial service will be held Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Cress Funeral Home, 3610 Speedway Road.
A private burial will take place at Forest Hill Cemetery, where the Parkers' headstone has their names and dates and the epitaph ''OUR BYLINES -- 30.''
In old newsroom parlance, ''30'' means ''The End.''
Ethel Parker was a pioneer in Madison journalism.
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