Parker, Ada May Steward (Mrs. Geo. D.)


February 20, 1871 - 1949
The career of our beloved sister, Ada Stewart Parker has ended. Her compassionate heart beats no more. Her eyes are closed, eyes which were windows through which was seen the magnanimity of her Christian soul. She who in life so earnestly sought to make known to others her Master, now rejoices in His presence.
Mrs. G. D. Parker was the eldest daughter of a large family. Her father, George T. Stewart, was from the state of Georgia, and her mother, Julia Higginbotham was from Florida.
Ada May Stewart was born Feb. 20, 1871 in Crandall, Nassau Co., Florida., where she was converted and joined the Methodist Church.
At the age of sixteen she began to teach in the public schools of her state, and later graduated from the Normal School.
Early in life she felt called to do missionary work. She entered Scarritt Bible and Training School, Kansas City, Mo. where Christian workers received special preparation. One of the courses was in nurs-ing. Later in her work this study was very useful to her. She graduat-ed in 1901 and this same year the Woman’s Missionary Board sent her to Brazil.
Upon her arrival she was sent to Ribeirao Preto to teach in the Methodist school, where Miss Leonore Smith was principal.
Later in this school Miss Stewart served as principal for three years. Afterwards she was transferred to Rio de Janeiro and appoint-ed principal of Collegio Fluminense, which is known today as Bennett College.
While serving as principal of the school she showed her interest in the work of the local church, taking an active part in the Sunday School and Woman’s Society.
While she was living in Ribeirao Preto the terrible disease—yellow fever—broke out in the city. The people were panic stricken and those who could left the city.
The Methodist School for boys which had as its director, Sr. Bento Braga de Araujo and the Methodist School for girls suspended classes and closed the dormitories. Miss Stewart with her colleague, Miss Willie Bowman, received orders from the Board of Missions to leave the town immediately.
However, realizing that this would be the best opportunity to serve the people, they resolved to remain and do what they could for the people. It was on this occasion that Miss Stewart put into practice her knowledge of nursing the sick. They offered themselves as voluntary nurses in the improvised hospital set up by the state government during the epidemic. During several months they worked in this hospital until the plague was over. The epidemic was so violent that as a rule contact with it was almost the equivalent of a death sentence.. Knowing the risk they were taking, Miss Stewart and Miss Bowman agreed that if one of them should die the other would take charge of her possessions. Sr. Bento Brags de Araujo remained heroically at his post although the school for boys was closed. He visited the sick, buried the dead and comforted the living. His presence in the city gave courage to these two women who were interned in the hospital. Sr. Brags paid with his life for his devotion. He contracted yellow fever and in a few days died. His name is worthy of a place among the heroes of the Methodist Church.
When the epidemic passed, the Methodist School for girls opened its doors again. During a period of time due to lack of funds which did not arrive from Nashville, those courageous women were obliged to depend on Public Charity in order to feed the boarding pupils.
At the end of her first term of service Miss Stewart married Rev. Geo. D. Parker, also on his first furlough, on the tenth of March 1908 in Georgia. From this day until the day when Mr. Parker retired she worked by his side in Brazil, helping him wholeheartedly. Speaking of his companion, who so recently left him, he said “Any success in the work of the church resulting from our joint efforts was due to the efficient and loyal cooperation of my wife.”
The contribution which Mr. and Mrs. Parker made to the work of the Church whether in the Northern or in the Southern Brazil, is well known to the church. Under their ministry many accepted Christ as their Savior and many young men felt the call to the ministry. Their interest in the work of the Sunday School was notable. It was under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Parker that the first Daily Vacation Bible School was organized in Brazil.
Their home was always open for their brethren, whether Brazilian or American, and many are those who remember the splendid hospitality which they received in this Christian home.
Due to the incurable disease which attacked his eyes, glaucoma, Mr. Parker was obliged to leave the active work of the church and return to the United States. During the past fifteen years he has been combating this disease which effected his eyes, but without much success, for in January 1948 he became entirely blind. He said in speaking of his wife “She was always at my side in the struggle, doing all in her power to help me conserve my sight.” Once more she put into practice the knowledge of the art of nursing she had learned at Sear-ritt.
About six months ago she became gravely ill. Everything possible was done but nothing availed and after a few weeks in she passed peacefully away.
Her body lies in a beautiful memorial cemetery in Jacksonville, but her life continues not only in the promote of her Lord whom she served with love sad dedication, but also in the lives of her many spiritual sons and daughters scattered over the great land of Brazil.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 118-120, 1949

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