Remembering Bellevue's ‘Parky’ — ‘an amazing lady’

For the last 50 years of her life, Ruby Elizabeth (Partington) Forrester reached out to people all over the world. “Parky” died June 26, 2008, two weeks shy of her 103rd birthday.

For the last 50 years of her life, Ruby Elizabeth (Partington) Forrester reached out to people all over the world. “Parky” died June 26, 2008, two weeks shy of her 103rd birthday.

“We’re going to miss her a lot,” said Bellevue City Councilmember Conrad Lee, who remembers Parky and her husband, Jim, as being two people who shared an active passion for life.

“She and her husband were very active and shared a healthy outlook on life,” Lee said. “They were curious, interested, and adventurous and that attitude exemplifies the way they lived and how they interacted with people and the world around them.”

Jim preceded his wife in death.

A celebration of her life will be held at the Highland Community Center, 14224 Bel-Red Road at 2 p.m. today. Parky’s many friends are invited to attend and to tell about their most precious memories.

Bellevue Sister City Association members Dorthy Webb and Mitzie Hashiguchi remember their dear friend as being a true treasure of Bellevue. She was an active member of the Bellevue Sister Cities Association, an avid rockhound, taught students in and out of the classroom, and traveled extensively.

According to the friends who knew her best, Parky was a true testament to the Bellevue Sister City Association’s mission of fostering understanding, appreciation and cultural understanding.

“Her youthful and caring attitude in life endured her to relate to a pauper or a king,” Webb explained, in regards to her friend of 30 plus years. “She was a beautiful person inside and out.”

At the age of 16, Parky taught school for $6 per month in the isolated farm country in Canada. Her board and room were provided by the parents of the students. In 1935, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winnepeg, Manitoba and taught school until 1938 when she enlisted in the army.

She served during the Second World War as a Radar Specialist in Canada. Parky met and married Jim Forrester after the war and they came to reside in Bellevue shortly thereafter.

Bellevue Sister Cities Association and their members remember this vivacious lady who participated with energy and enthusiasm. Teaching followed her wherever she lived. Over the years, she taught English and math to children throughout Bellevue schools. Her tutoring aided in many students graduating with honors and gain scholarships to higher learning.

Parky volunteered as a ski patrol at Snoqualmie up until age 86, when she underwent a knee replacement surgery. However, that same year she went to Taiwan for a Sister City visit.

“Parky was an amazing lady,” said Webb. “Two weeks after her knee replacement, she walked on all the tours and rode the tour bus.”

During the 1980’s, she and Jim went on an Ocean Rafting Trip inside the Queen Charloette Islands and also joined a tour group for an Ice Camping trip by dog sled on Baffin Island. That trip was marked by a National Geographic Reporter writing about the lady in her 80s who “tip-toed” over the ice fields like a 16-year-old youth. She also traveled to Taiwan and taught English at a high school for a year. Her passing was noted by the Bellevue City Council.

“She touched so many people,” Webb said. “Once you knew her, you just didn’t let her go.”

Ruby Elizabeth (Partington) Forrester “Parky” was born July 10, 1905 in Roche Percee, Saskatchewan.

She is survived by a nephew, Josheph Partington, a brother-in-law, Clif Forrester, his daughter Peggy Forrester and many grand nieces and nephews. Remembrances to Parky can be made to the Bellevue Sister Cities Association at P.O Box 90012 Bellevue, WA 98009.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or 425-453-4602.