How I came to know Hitsy Parnell was through a seemingly random path. My husband and I were living in Birmingham, Alabama in 2007 when I purchased a 1968 Corolla yearbook at a church rummage sale. In 2008, we moved across the country to Portland, Oregon and the Corolla went with us. This wasn’t my first college annual purchase, I already had a collection from Chapel Hill, NC from 1928-1931 and some other miscellaneous ones I had happened upon over the years. I often “borrowed” faces and names from them for my paintings.
When I first painted Hitsy, all I knew of her was that she was a real beauty and had a wonderful name. Not really knowing sorority protecall, I painted her alongside two other beauties from the same college annual but not from Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. After the painting sold, it occurred to me to google her name, after all she was much younger than my usual subjects, who graduated in 1931. To my dismay, I came across her obituary from 2007 and saw that she was survived by two sons, a husband, a mother and also mentioned was her beloved pug, Bonnie Louise. I then painted Hitsy again with Bonnie Louise. It was sometime after this, that I received a very nice email from one of her daughter-in-laws who also shared some very nice stories about Hitsy. One of the stories was about Hitsy throwing a watermelon party for Bon Bon (aka Bonnie Louise). Shortly after hearing from the daughter-in-law, I also received nice emails from both sons, essentially saying that their mother had a wonderful sense of humor and would have loved the idea of being portrayed in my paintings. It seemed every time I heard from someone, I would be in tears. How wonderful to be so loved and well remembered!
This winter I began receiving very nice emails from some of Hitsy’s college friends, each of them sharing even more great stories of their wonderful friend. I am so grateful to all of them for being so generous in sharing their heartfelt, endearing and often funny stories of times with their mutual friend. Here is Hitsy one more time with her Alpha Gamma Delta friends, Jan, Kathy, Mary Lou, Amanda, Hitsy and Sug. Hitsy touched many lives, mine included.