GRAY – For many years during the Vietnam War, Ellen Parady watched her husband and other Navy sailors ship out from Norfolk, Va., to serve their country.

Family and friends cheered as a military band played patriotic music. The wives held their children close, crying and shouting their final goodbyes and I love you’s to their husbands.

“All of those wives left standing on the pier would become family,” said Joanne Swenson of Hebron, the younger of Mrs. Parady’s two children.

“My mom welcomed them in our home. She was an inspiration to a lot of people. She was a Navy wife. Everything was for God and country,” her daughter said.

Mrs. Parady, a former longtime Avon representative who had a passion for music and generously gave back to the community, died Monday. She was 79.

She was a loving wife to George A. Parady Jr. for 59 years. The couple met at a dance at the American Legion Hall in Gray. At the time, he was on leave from the Navy and she was a bookkeeper at Casco Bank in Portland. They were married in July 1952.

The couple returned to Maine after her husband’s military service.

Swenson said her parents shared a passion for traveling and visited nations on several continents.

“They had a wonderful life,” she said. “They were soul mates. Now, he is beside himself. He’s so sad.”

Mrs. Parady was remembered by her daughter Monday as a strong, resourceful and compassionate woman who had a zest for life.

She worked for Avon for more than 30 years and sold its products in the Gray area. She retired in the late 1990s.

“Everyone knew her,” Swenson said. “I could never understand why all those people would buy Avon. She had this way about her. If it was on sale, she could talk you into buying three or four of them. She had a passion for whatever she did.”

One of those things was music. She played the organ at weddings, funerals and other church services.

For most of her life, she also taught piano to children. She directed the children’s choir at the First Congregational Church of Gray for about 15 years.

“She had this love for music,” her daughter said. “She considered it a gift from God and she gave it back a hundred times over.”

Mrs. Parady struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for the past 12 years or so. She died early Monday, two weeks after suffering a seizure.

Her daughter said Halloween was one of her favorite holidays. She remembered when her mother used to dress up and hand out homemade popcorn balls and candied apples to trick-or-treaters.

“Of all days for her to pass,” her daughter said. “There’s snow on the ground and snowmen in the yard. Yesterday, the kids made snowmen and today they are trick-or-treating. She would have loved watching the kids from the window.”


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at [email protected]