Martha Sue Cunningham Parkerson “Sue”, of Ormond Beach, Florida, passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones on April 7, 2021. Sue lived her life by a single motto: Do everything with love. Her devotion to this simple but powerful philosophy explains the extraordinary bonds she formed with family, friends, and even casual acquaintances.
Sue was born on July 26, 1933, in Brooksville, Florida, to Ben and Nita Cunningham. She spent her childhood in Orlando, followed by a family move to Savannah, Georgia where she forged lifelong friendships through Girl Scouts and Savannah High School. Scouting played a particularly special part of her youth, and Sue delighted in seeing that important bond cemented when her teen scout uniform became part of the collection of the Girl Scout First Headquarters Museum. Sue met the love of her life, John B. Parkerson, at Savannah High School, where the two were voted “Most Likely to Succeed” as seniors, graduating in 1951.
Sue continued her education at Armstrong Junior College, earning an Associate of Arts degree. With her passion for teaching piqued in an earlier summer job as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, Sue returned to education and taught at Oglethorpe Elementary School for one year upon graduation.
Sue and John married on September 11, 1954, at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah and enjoyed a wonderful 66-year marriage. After John’s graduation from Duke University, the couple moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, where John pursued a career in government, and they raised a family. Sue embraced nurturing their four children – motherhood was her passion – and thrived in the years to come as a grandmother and great-grandmother. She shared her maternal love with all that she knew, and many claimed her as their second mother.
Upon John’s retirement, the two moved to Florida to care for both sets of aging parents. In Ormond Beach, Sue’s warmth and care stretched to others around her and the civic organizations that make a city a community. Her devotion to service found an outlet in local politics and in numerous organizations, including Citizens for Ormond Beach, Citizens and Neighbors Devoted to Ormond, Historic Landmark Preservation Board for the City of Ormond Beach, Friends of the Ormond Beach Library, and the Ormond Beach Garden Club. Sue left her mark not only on the organizations themselves but even more so on the individuals, who found their lives richer for the friendship they found with her.
An organizer and a people person at heart, Sue formed the glue to hold together many circles of friends over her lifetime. She cherished family and friendships more than anything and loved nothing more than graciously sharing her southern hospitality in her beautiful home or spending time rocking on the front porch enjoying the view of the Halifax River. Her home was always filled with love, laughter, and fresh flowers. A southern lady with a keen sense of style, including a penchant for matching shoes and hats, Sue radiated joy and love. She taught us to do everything with love, be kind and forgive others. And that it is just as easy to wear things that match than things that don’t. She was so generous with her time, spirit, and heart. Sue truly leaves a legacy of love.
Sue is predeceased by her parents and her older brother, Ben Cunningham, Jr. She is survived by her husband, John Parkerson, and children, John Parkerson, Jr. (Kathy) of Catonsville, MD, Sara Parkerson Vita (Gary) of Reisterstown, MD, Jane Ferry (Tony) of Orlando, FL, and Bill Parkerson (Carolyn) of Kansas City, MO. She is also survived by her brother Bill Cunningham (Laurie), sister Mary Smith (Jerry), twelve grandchildren and step-grandchildren, Thomas Hrozencik (Ilana), Elizabeth Byrd (Jonathan), Emily Harper (Rick), Tony Ferry, John Ferry, Andrew Parkerson, James Parkerson, Grace Parkerson, Julia Parkerson, Kathryn Levitae (Yale), Beth Vitel (Tommy), and Michael Vita, one great-grandson, Samuel Hrozencik, and one great-step-granddaughter, Lorraine Levitae. She is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Wednesday, June 9th at 2pm at First United Methodist Church at 336 S. Halifax Drive in Ormond Beach. For those concerned about attending in-person, the service will be live-streamed at www.firstunited.org. For further information call 386-677-3581.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Friends of Library Access, PO Box 10716, Daytona Beach, FL 32120.
336 South Halifax Drive, Ormond Beach, FL 32176