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URMC / Mary Parkes Center / Tribute to Mary Parkes


Tribute to Mary Parkes

Mary M. Parkes - Asthma Sufferer
Mary M. Parkes

Mary Parkes is far more than the namesake of our Center. She is our daily inspiration. Though Mary suffered for many years with asthma, she was first and foremost a nurse. A critical care nurse in the Rochester region, Mary was known for her unfailing optimism and perseverance. She understood the challenges of being a patient. Mary was hospitalized more than 50 times for asthma treatments. As a result, she carried a special understanding with her to every patient’s bedside. After a long struggle with the disease, Mary died in April, 1991 at the age of 32. Soon after, Mary’s family and friends started a support group for people with asthma—the first in the area.

Wherever Mary is, she wears a smile because of the Center's success in helping others live life to the fullest."
Maureen Prince, RN


Maureen Prince and Mary Parks

Maureen Prince and Mary Parkes

Three short years later and many trips around the country searching for programs, The Mary Parkes Center—the first of its kind in Western New York—was established. It was made possible through the generous support of Mary’s parents, Walter and Carmina Parkes, and her physicians, Dr. Michael Finigan and Dr. Susan Ristow. Mary’s nurse and best friend, Maureen Prince, has been at the forefront of the program’s success and currently serves as the nurse manager of the Center.  “Mary had no idea anything would ever come of her struggle and death as a result of asthma," says Maureen. "But I know now, wherever Mary is, she wears a smile because of the Center's success in helping others live life to the fullest. Mary would have liked that.”

The Parkes Family

The Parkes FamilyPersonally affected by the struggles of asthma patients and their families, the Parkes family established the Mary Parkes Asthma Center as a means to address the needs of asthma patients and those suffering from other serious pulmonary disease. The family is passionate about their goal to improve patient care, increase education and accelerate research into new treatments, a lasting tribute to their daughter and sister, Mary M Parkes, RN.

Shortly after Mary’s death, the Parkes family started an asthma support group, the first in the region, for individuals with asthma and their families. In 1995, they opened the doors of the Mary Parkes Asthma Center at Genesee Hospital, the region's first program dedicated to people with asthma. The Center, which grew from this family-run support group, provided the necessary resources for specialized asthma care while eliminating isolation many asthma patients felt. Affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center since 2004, the Center stands as one of the region’s leading comprehensive center dedicated to the needs of patients with asthma and their families.

Since Mary’s passing and that of her mother Carmina, Walter and his children—Tom, Susan and Linda, and their families—remain committed to help advance the knowledge and science of asthma, and improve the quality of life of more and more patients.