Ruth (Sigler) Avery-Parker, a Tulsa Race Riot historian
and writer, died Oct. 29. She was 87.
A celebration service will begin at 4 p.m. Nov. 20 at
All Souls Unitarian Church.
Avery-Parker was born Sept. 18, 1914, in Tulsa. She
graduated from Central High School in 1932 and attended the
University of Tulsa before training in drug education at
Trinity University in San Antonio. She then began working
as a secretary for Dowell Oil Co.
Well-known in Tulsa for her early interest in the Tulsa
Race Riot of 1921, she spent a good part of her life
compiling personal accounts of it. Her interest was sparked
when, as a girl, she lived near Oaklawn Cemetery and was
said to have watched as the bodies of black riot victims
were taken there for burial.
She remained a local history buff and helped integrate
the Tulsa Historical Society, for which she was secretary
and co-chairwoman of the Oral History Committee.
Avery-Parker's poetry has been published in regional and
national anthologies, and she was a free-lance writer.
Her first husband, Leighton Avery, was the son of Cyrus
Avery, who became known as "The Father of Route 66" and
helped bring about Tulsa's water and road infrastructure. A
state highway commissioner, he also served as treasurer of
a relief fund for Tulsa's devastated Greenwood district
after the race riot.
Leighton Avery died in 1983, and Avery-Parker married
Harold Parker in 1988. He died the next year.
Avery-Parker had been the president of Beta Sigma Phi,
Tulsa Association of Pioneers and the Delphian Society. She
had been the treasurer of Tulsa Opera Inc., Tulsa Little
Theatre and the Magic Empire Council of Girl Scouts Inc.
and the chairwoman of the board of the Tulsa Drug Treatment
Center at Eastern State Hospital in Vinita.