Linda Gaillard Parazynski, a wonderful wife, mother and grandmother, died June 16 in Houston. She was warm, witty, creative, glamorous and gracious, and her adventurous life led her all over the world.
Linda was born in 1937 in Mineola, NY, the daughter of Dr. Milton Gaillard and Cornelia Marsh Gaillard. She grew up on Long Island in the south shore town of Baldwin. Artistically inclined and athletic, she enjoyed swimming, ballet and modern dance, and was captain of her high school cheerleading squad.
She attended Keuka College for Women in upstate New York, where she was a campus leader, scholar, and prom queen, and was selected to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.” A highlight of her college years was a summer in Europe, where she served in a refugee camp for children in Austria during the Hungarian revolution. She was a French major with an education minor, and upon graduation, she began work as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines.
In 1959, she married Ed Parazynski, a Cornell graduate she had met at a fraternity party. After honeymooning in Europe, they moved to California where Ed began his Air Force ROTC duty and Linda taught high school. They were subsequently reassigned to Little Rock, AR, where their son Scott was born in 1961.
The following year Ed left the Air Force to join Boeing in Huntsville, AL, later relocating to New Orleans, working on the Apollo lunar program. After five happy years in New Orleans, they moved to Arlington, VA, where Ed was assigned to the Boeing Washington, DC office, and Linda taught in Scott’s elementary school.
Several foreign assignments then followed: Dakar, Beirut, Tehran, Riyadh, and Athens (on two occasions). Their travels led to many great friendships that lasted a lifetime. In Dakar, Linda and a friend were about to open a children’s dance studio when Ed was again reassigned, this time to the company office in Lebanon. Later, In Riyadh, she established a fashion consulting business and appeared on Saudi TV, discussing fashion trends and promoting her business. The Iraqi invasion of Saudi in 1990 prompted a return to the U.S., where Linda again worked in women’s fashion.
Linda’s son Scott, a medical doctor, was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1992, leading to five Space Shuttle launches, attended by Linda, Ed and many friends and family. Living at that time in Seattle, Linda accompanied Ed on his foreign travels and on holidays to the Far East and Europe. Ed’s retirement in 2000 provided opportunity for many years of further travel. She especially adored her time with her two beautiful grandchildren: Luke, a Baylor University graduate now working in Austin, and Jenna, who has truly blossomed through Avondale House’s support for those with autism. Moreover, she had an incredibly close bond with Scott’s wife Meena Wadhwa, a planetary scientist.
After a life of superb health, in 2016 Linda began to experience a number of significant health challenges. She and Ed moved to Houston for treatment at MD Anderson, and to be close to family. All who knew her, from around the world, grieve her loss, but are grateful beyond words to have shared a joyful life with her.
Friends are invited to an inurnment ceremony on Saturday, June 27, 2020 at half past nine o’clock in the morning at Glenwood Cemetery, 2525 Washington Avenue in Houston.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Linda’s memory be given to Avondale House in Houston (https://www.avondalehouse.org/donate/).
To view the livestream for the service, click here.
A recording of the service can be viewed below: