Doris Parker

Doris Parker

Stories about Doris Parker

Doris Parker, 77, a Crusader And Charlie Parker's Widow

    Doris Parker, widow of the jazz saxophonist Charlie (Bird) Parker, who used his memory to fight drug addiction, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 77 and lived in Manhattan.

    She died of respiratory failure said a friend, Sarah Morgan.

    Mrs. Parker was the third wife of Charlie Parker, the bebop innovator, who died in 1955 at 34, his life cut short by alcohol and drug use. They were married in 1948 and separated in 1950. (Parker considered Chan Parker, who died last year, his fourth wife, but a spokesman for his estate said they were not legally married.)

    Doris June Sydnor Parker was born on Aug. 16, 1922, in Rock Island, Ill. She came to New York at 22. At six feet tall, she became a striking figure as a hat-check girl at the Three Deuces, a West 52nd Street nightclub, where she met Charlie Parker in 1945. They began living together in 1946.

    When Parker, a heroin addict since his teenage years, spent six months in a California mental hospital in 1947, she moved to Los Angeles to visit and care for him. They were married in 1948 in Tijuana, Mexico, while Parker was on a West Coast tour with the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series.

    After his death, Mrs. Parker worked for 25 years as a secretary for Columbia University. She also had a long career as a community activist, working with groups like the Northwest Central Park Multiblock Association and the Federation of West Side Block Associations.

    In 1989, she organized the first Evening with Friends of Charlie Parker. These benefits, at which associates of her husband like Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie performed without pay, became annual events to raise money for Veritas, a drug rehabilitation program on the Upper West Side.

    ''Maybe,' Mrs. Parker said of her husband in 1993, ''he'll be remembered as not just the most famous junkie of his time.''

    No immediate family members survive.

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