Matilda McDonald Parker
Matilda McDonald Parker
  • December 18, 1926 - September 9, 2017
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

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Matilda McDonald Parker was born in Raleigh on December 18, 1926. She was raised among the six sprawling greenhouses belonging to her parents, Matilda Steinmetz McDonald and Eugene McDonald. The business, known as Steinmetz Florist, was the first florist in the state. It was established by her grandparents, Emma Louise and Henry Steinmetz. Reportedly Steinmetz's first greenhouses were on Nash Square where he also planted trees. When Matilda began art classes at Peace College, the greenhouse flowers were frequent subjects.

Matilda's interest in aviation led to her becoming a pilot before she went on to attend NC State and UNC at Chapel Hill, from which she earned a degree in psychology in 1948. During that time she also met and married the late William Baylies Parker of New York. Together they established a farm on the northern outskirts of Raleigh and began to raise a family. Amid the demands of farm life and four children, Matilda found time to continue her artistic pursuits. Her painting and drawing expanded to include photography. She was vitally interested in the then-new NC Museum of Art, where she served as a docent and was a founding member of the Raleigh Fine Arts Society. Later, she easily adapted to and became principally committed to digital photography. Her lifelong interest in flowers, plants, and nature is reflected in the paintings and photographic archive she leaves behind.

Matilda is survived by her four children, William, Robert, Edward, and Matilda; Edward's wife Tina; as well as two granddaughters, Sydney and Austin. She is also survived by Elizabeth McDonald and Grissom McDonald, the daughter and son of her late brother, Eugene McDonald. Her family plans to release her ashes into the coastal waters of the Outer Banks of North Carolina some time in the future.

Against the odds of the times and with the assistance of caring people, Matilda was able to live at home, with her beloved dog Rowdy, until the end of her days.