OLD ORCHARD BEACH – If love could have saved Teresa Parker’s life, she would be alive today.
This week, dozens of people visited her room at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough to celebrate and honor a woman they say impacted so many people.
Her seven siblings, other family members, and her best friend stood by her bedside Thursday afternoon, on the day she lost a long and valiant battle with cancer. She was 46.
“Teresa did not go quietly,” said her sister Mary Margaret Reid of South Portland. “She didn’t want to leave this world. Why would she? Teresa has a beautiful daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter. She had a lot to live for.”
Mrs. Parker grew up in Portland, the youngest of eight children. She graduated from Catherine McAuley High School in 1983, and then pursued a career in the insurance industry, working for Unum for a few years.
In 1987, she joined Custom Disability Solutions, a division of Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company and its predecessor, Duncanson & Holt Services, Inc.
She worked in its disability underwriting department for many years. In 2009, she took a position in the technology department as a business analyst.
“Words cannot express the sense of loss we all feel at her passing,” Jerry Bannach, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement Friday. “It is up to each of us who knew her to keep her spirit in our hearts and her memory alive in our actions. Teresa would have wanted it this way.”
Mrs. Parker was remembered by her siblings Friday as a strong, generous and positive woman, who had a passion for life.
In 1988, she married Randolph Parker and moved to Cape Elizabeth. They couple raised a daughter, Katherine Parker.
The family enjoyed spending summers at their lake house in Gray. The Parkers eventually settled in Old Orchard Beach and bought Shore Things Variety, which they ran until his death in 2005.
Her oldest sister, Rosemary Reid of Old Orchard Beach, remembered Friday the day they met at Roma Cafe in Portland.
“It was love at first sight,” she said. “She deeply loved Randy.”
Mrs. Parker had a variety of interests, ranging from playing the guitar and piano to visiting Orlando and New York City. She also enjoyed cross stitching, playing cribbage and doing puzzles. Mary Margaret Reid said she had an analytical and technical mind.
“Her mind was wired that way,” her sister said. “She could take the most knotted necklace or a difficult puzzle and solve it.”
Mrs. Parker was an active member of Holy Cross Church in South Portland. For several years, she participated in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in October.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2007. Three years later at a routine screening, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to her bones. In May of 2010, she received the devastating news that her cancer could not be cured. At the time, she was 44 years old.
“The cancer never took her hope,” her sister Rosemary Reid said.
“She always had hope that she would be able to do more (in her life). Cancer took her life, but it didn’t take her courage or her sense of humor. It didn’t take away her spirit. She was a strong Catholic and it never eroded her faith.”
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: