The City of Santa Clara is in mourning for one of its most beloved citizens, Aldyth Parle, 89, who died last Thursday night at Valley Medical Center, following a car accident on Coleman Avenue. She was on her way home from a Santa Clara County Democratic Party Central Committee meeting, on which she had served for 20 years. Earlier in the day, she was at the dedication of the new Gillmor building at Mission College.
Parle’s role as a “first citizen” of Santa Clara was summed up pretty simply by her longtime friend, former Council Member John McLemore. “When people heard she had died, everyone said, ‘But I just saw her.'”
A former City Council Member, founding chair of the city’s ethics committee, former Senior Advisory Commissioner, and board member of the Mission City Community Fund, Parle was an active supporter of virtually every community services and arts organization. “No one was more effective in the community than Aldyth,” says Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews. In Parle’s honor, city flags are flying at half-staff.
“She approached everything she did from a position of service,” says Council Member Teresa O’Neill, a close friend who worked with Parle in many service groups and political campaigns. “One thing I appreciated about Aldyth was that she followed through and did what she said she would do.” Parle was also an active member of San Jose’s Calvary United Methodist Church.
Parle’s influence didn’t stop at the city boundaries. She was a founder of Heart of the Valley Services for Seniors, Inc. For many years she worked as a Santa Clara County public health administrator, and even after she had retired was instrumental in educating public officials about the importance of public health workers, saying that they were as much “first responders” in emergencies as paramedics, firefighters and police officers.
Although she was long-time activist in the Democratic Party, Parle held principle above party. “It didn’t matter if you were a Democrat, Republican, or Independent,” says McLemore, with whom she served on the City Council in the 1990s. “She judged every issue on its merits.” Parle was also a strong supporter for women entering politics for the first time, mentoring them and providing an unending source of energy and organizational support.
Although she never married, Parle was always close to her family, which extended to four generations of nieces and nephews and their families. Parle is survived by her brother Walter Parle of Los Gatos, and sister-in-law Lillian Parle and great-nephew Christopher Parle who lived with her.
A memorial to Parle is planned for Saturday, May 17 at Mission City Center for the Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St. (Wilcox High School) from 1:30 to 4 pm.