As assistant to four deans and interim deans over the span of a twenty-four-year career at Boston College Law School, Patricia Parlon made her presence felt in every corner of the Newton Campus. She was the “the eyes and ears” of the deans she served and made each transition seamless, said Professor Robert Bloom.
Her passing on December 29, one day shy of her 76th birthday, was a shock to the Law School community; some staff had eaten pizza with her in the student affairs office just before the holiday vacation. She was happy then and, as always, bemused by shared moments with colleagues. “Pat and I exchanged cheerful words just before the Christmas break—and suddenly she is gone,” said Professor Zygmunt Plater, still incredulous that she’d passed less than a week later. “Her warmth and calm, thoughtful demeanor helped so many of us over the years.”
She was a loyal person who saw her workplace friends as second family. Before BC Law, she was employed for fifteen years at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. That is where her friendship with R. Michael Cassidy began. “Pat and I worked together for thirty-four years. She was the senior executive assistant in the criminal bureau when I served as bureau chief. Everyone used to joke that they knew who the real boss was (and undoubtedly it was Pat!),” he said. “When I moved to BC Law and a position opened up in the Dean’s office, I recommended her for the job without a second’s reservation.”
Cassidy’s fondness for Parlon tumbles out in other recollections.
“Pat has always been incredibly smart, diligent, and hard working. I used to jokingly call her Radar O’Reilly because she knew what I needed before I did. (I hope there are still fans of “Mash” out there who appreciate this reference.),” he said.
“Although Pat was always incredibly busy, she never failed to take time out of her day to inquire about others and how they were doing,” Cassidy continued. “She was generous and loving to the core, and always made everyone around her feel special and well cared for. I became close to Pat’s family, and she to mine. I learned a lot about raising boys from watching Pat raise her sons.”
Parlon was a self-described “people person,” explaining to one BC Law colleague that she had returned to work for the companionship after an extended medical leave several years ago. That was just like her, Professor Mark Brodin observed: “She always soldiered on.”
She has been laid to rest, but she is not forgotten. “I can still see Pat sitting at her desk, with her gracious (and sometimes ironic) smile,” said Professor Patricia McCoy. “She was so dedicated to the Law School, even amidst personal tragedies and health challenges. It was so enjoyable for me to work with her all these years.”
Photo: Patricia Parlon in her BC Law office with a computer photo of her beloved sons.