A New Windsor area mother and son who died in a swimming pool accident in July will be memorialized through a scholarship at Western Maryland College and a planned baseball diamond at Libertytown Community Park.
Sandra L. Parise, 52, had talked about earning a degree after 9-year-old Joseph, "Joey," the youngest of her five children, reached high school. She died when she apparently fell into a neighbor's swimming pool shortly before 7 p.m. July 31 in the small Frederick County community of Edgewood, near New Windsor.
Joey's eagerness to play baseball and improvement in skills led his coach in the Libertytown recreation program to award him a game ball two days before his death. Although no one saw what happened at the pool, Frederick County sheriff's investigators concluded that Joey jumped in to try to save his mother, although he could not swim. A neighbor pulled him from the water. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he died Aug. 1.
Mrs. Parise's aunt, Beverley Hill of Pasadena, established the scholarship. Ms. Hill, a 1960 WMC graduate, said she wanted "to do as much as possible to keep the memory of my niece alive."
Ms. Hill described Mrs. Parise as her best friend. She said that although Mrs. Parise graduated from Baltimore's Eastern High School when it was an all-female school with high academic standards, "I think she felt she needed [a bachelor's degree] to affirm her intelligence."
The scholarship is to go to a student who fits Mrs. Parise's profile, an older woman who is taking care of a family while attending college, who has Christian values and intellectual curiosity. Ms. Hill declined to state the amount of the scholarship.
Stephenson Close, WMC director of development, said the first scholarship will be awarded for the 1996-1997 school year.
The Libertytown Recreation Council established the Joey Parise Memorial Fund soon after his death. The fund now contains about $2,000, fund co-chairwoman Mary Pescatore said.
She said the council hopes to have county approval to add the Joey Parise diamond to the two existing ball fields next spring. She said any additional money may be used to cover registration for children whose families cannot afford the fees or for an annual award for the most improved player.
"Whatever is done will be totally for the kids," she said.
Mrs. Parise's husband, Donald E. Parise, has told the recreation council he hopes the fund can become permanent. He said he was pleased to learn about the scholarship.
"I loved my wife with all my heart and soul, and my son," Mr. Parise said. "My son and wife are gone. They're not coming back. I'm hoping their spirits will be shared by the community through these memorials."
The sheriff's department reported that diabetes probably precipitated Mrs. Parise's fall, but Mr. Parise disputes that conclusion. He said his wife -- who was a good swimmer -- had high blood sugar, which she controlled through diet, but took no medication. He believes that she was injured when she fell, and Joey jumped in to try to rescue her.
"My son died a hero," Mr. Parise said.
Despite having attention deficit disorder, Joey was at or above grade level in all subjects except reading and writing, his father said. Mr. Parise said Joey was a natural athlete who loved baseball, soccer and basketball.
Carmela Douds of Walkersville met Mrs. Parise through St. Peter's Catholic Church in Libertytown. Mrs. Douds is a former director of religious education, and Mrs. Parise was a facilitator for Rainbows for Children, a peer support group for children who have suffered a loss such as divorce or death, and a member of a Renew adult faith-sharing group.
"In a world where people are trying to go somewhere frantically, Sandy really knew the art of living today," Mrs. Douds said.
She and Mrs. Parise shared the challenges of older children -- Mrs. Douds' eight children range in age from 5 to 21; Mrs. Parise had four adult children from her first marriage, in addition to Joey.
"She accepted her children for who they were and not who she wanted them to be," Mrs. Douds said.