Rhoda Dee Parke Salyer, 84, and James (“Jim”) Lee Salyer, 88, most recently of Friendswood, Texas, met their eternal rest April 19, 2015. They are survived by their son, James E. (“Jay”) Salyer, daughter-in-law Sandy Salyer of Lemoore, California, and grandson James A. (“Jamie”) Salyer of Chico, California, and by their son David P. Salyer, daughter-in-law Jennifer Klein Salyer, and granddaughter Carol Deanne (“Cadee”) Salyer of Galveston, Texas. They were preceded in death by their newborn daughter Dee Ann Salyer, by Jim’s parents Dr. Nathan James Salyer and Rachel Hudiberg Salyer, Dee’s parents Morton Leon Parke and Annie Mayfield Parke, and by Dee’s sister, Annie May Parke Webb and brother Morton Leon Parke, Jr.
Dee and Jim were married just shy of 62 years and could not imagine their lives apart from one another. Their interests were as intricately intertwined as their love for each other and their delight in each other’s companionship. They took pleasure in traveling the world together, whether on their own, or with family or as part of the Flying Texas Longhorns, spending time in places like Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Morocco, and Mexico. Both enjoyed the outdoors and hiking. Jim hiked the Grand Canyon to celebrate his 70th birthday. The family is filled with stories of their outdoor adventures together and loves to recall the time Dee hiked in her new red Keds tennis shoes, leaving red dye footprints in the snow in Colorado. Dee and Jim found great beauty in Native American art and artifacts and were avid collectors of it, so it was no surprise that after spending a number of their retired years in Sedona, Arizona, they relocated to Kerrville, Texas, and enjoyed being active as docents at the Museum of Western Art. Dee and Jim were ordained elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and were very early and devoted members at La Marque Presbyterian Church. Dee also served as the church’s organist for many years.
They are perhaps most well known as educators. Jim and Dee began teaching at La Marque Junior High School in 1951, where they met and soon married. Jim later became the school’s principal, and in 1970, he moved into district administration until his retirement in the late ‘80s. After teaching English for several years, Dee left teaching to stay home with her children until 1970, when she returned as a reading teacher at La Marque Intermediate School. Dee later served as school librarian for the Intermediate School and the Junior High School. Dee had a voracious appetite for reading, especially anything to do with Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy. Dee and Jim left an indelible impact on all of their students, and their sons have numerous stories of being stopped all around the country by former students extolling their parents as teachers.
Jim was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1926, the son and grandson of Presbyterian ministers. He entered the Naval ROTC in 1944 at Southwestern Louisiana Institute and later transferred to the University of Texas where he studied petroleum engineering. Upon graduation, Jim worked as a geologist and then began teaching in La Marque in 1951. In 1953, during the Korean War, Jim was called to serve as a Lieutenant in the Navy aboard the USS Leyte in Boston and then moved into Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon. When he was discharged in 1955, Jim returned to teaching and earned his Master’s in School Administration.
Dee was born in Webster, Texas, in 1930. She graduated from Sam Houston State Teachers College where she was the pianist with the college symphony orchestra. When Jim was called into Naval service, Dee accompanied him to Boston and then to Washington, D.C., where she was employed as a civilian at the Pentagon, serving as a secretary to the Chief of Naval Operations. Dee studied in the great libraries in Italy and later earned her Master’s in Library Science from Sam Houston State University.
Yet, none of their accomplishments came close to the pride and deep affection that Jim and Dee held for their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Bragging was their rite of passage and the topic of nearly every conversation with their friends. They were immensely proud of the successes of their grandson Jamie and of his work ethic and love for family, and they had such wonderful memories of traveling with him and watching him grow. Their granddaughter Cadee, who came along late in their lives, was a bright light for them. Cadee could single-handedly perk Dee up by her presence alone, and she had a keen appreciation for her Big Dad’s dry wit.
The family misses them dearly but rejoices in their freedom from earthly suffering and acknowledges with deepest gratitude the love and condolences of Jim’s and Dee’s friends. The family is especially thankful for Martha McGinnis LaFoy, who remained their loyal and devoted friend since she was a junior high school cheerleader when Jim was her principal, and who, in these last weeks, served Dee lovingly as part of her home healthcare team.
Memorials may be made to the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas, or to the Alzheimer’s Association. A Service of Witness to the Resurrection in memory of Dee and Jim will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 27, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church, Galveston, with a reception following.