The late philanthropist was the widow of the late mystery writer Robert B.Parker, and supporter of many LGBT organizations
Joan was one of my dearest friends. We became close quickly, as she spent countless hard-working hours championing The Theater Offensive. Her participation was extraordinarily fortunate for a little queer activist theater company. Y'see, Joan also happened to be one of New England's most influential philanthropists.
Her beloved sons David and Daniel are both brilliant artists, with whom The Theater Offensive has been lucky to work on shows like Nut Cracked and A Fairy Tale. They took time away from their responsibilities today to let me know that Joan's health declined very quickly in the last week and she was hospitalized under MGH's terrific care for only a few days. Joan had a strong circle of friends who gathered around and supported her in the tough times she faced since her husband Bob's death in 2010. I send out my love and thanks to that circle. Joan hated being sick and hardly ever seemed to be. All of us know that this quick ending is what Joan wanted.
I first met JoanParker when she approached me during the curtain call of a True Colors OUT Youth Theater performance. She asked if she could volunteer to help. From that moment forward, her passion for our youth programming never flagged. Even though she had her hands full, supporting Community Servings, PFLAG, and her other passions, she always helped out The Theater Offensive, right up to this month.
Today I am showering myself in 14 years of memories, so excuse me if you hear me cackling a lot. Only two weeks ago Joan and I enjoyed a dinner together. Because it was just the two of us, I was treated to a little more love-life advice from her, which I treasure. She adored Roberto from the first time they met. I always looked forward to her quirky relationship guidance. Joan's marriage with Bob was the stuff of legend; it's the kind of legend you want to learn from, even if you don't want to reenact every dramatic detail!
At our last dinner together she wanted to hear all about the impact the marathon bombings and their aftermath were having on the True Colors troupe members. She wanted to make sure they were getting the support they needed to deal with yet another challenge and she wanted to know what she could do to help. That was just like her: "Never mind stage-four lung cancer, bring me a gimlet and tell me what I can do to help the kids!"
Frankly, The Theater Offensive probably wouldn't exist today without the hard work that JoanParker put into it. For that, and for her great friendship, I will be eternally grateful.