E. Huntington “Hunter” Parker, costume designer and seamster, died Feb. 9 of metastasic lung cancer. He was 72.
Parker was born in Providence, R.I., but spent the majority of his life in Philadelphia. His passion for the arts spanned decades and his true calling was that of costume designer and seamster — for large theaters, smaller troupes and individuals. He designed and oversaw costume creations for the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Walnut Street Theatre and Alvin Ailey.
Longtime friends of Parker remember him as a gentle, dry-witted individual who always had a moment for friends. To anyone who knew the name Hunter, there was but one image: a congenial round face and a plaid shirt with dozens of buttons, which were given to him by friends over the years, pinned on it. It was also not uncommon to encounter him in the late-night hours after a long day of sewing, evidenced by the forgotten tape measure around his neck.
One of his closest friends, Melissa Blimline-Morales, was with Parker at the end.
Blimline-Morales met Parker at a party years ago and afterwards shared a cab home.
“I had locked myself out and by the time someone brought keys to let me in, we were fast friends,” she said. “He would go out of his way every week to pick up a copy of PGN. When he couldn’t get it himself any longer, I brought him one every week, he enjoyed it so. He always enjoyed seeing how far [the LGBT community] had come in the nation.”
“He was truly a gifted man, passionate about the arts and knew everyone,” she added. “Hunter worked for every theater company there was to work for. He had a serious passion for dance. I remember being at a show at the Walnut Street Theatre and calling him during intermission. He told me about the stitching on the butler’s coat.”
Parker is survived by sister Carol P. Helgerson, brother Robert M. Parker, Jr., two nephews, three nieces and scores of devoted friends. A private ceremony will take place in Providence in early summer. A memorial life celebration is being planned for Philadelphia.