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‘It’s hard to comprehend’: Family mourns Clearwater plane crash victim

“She was always happy,” said her son, Bill Parry, 62. “She really enjoyed life.”
 
Martha Parry was killed Thursday when an airplane crashed into her Clearwater mobile home in the Bayside Waters 55+ community. Parry was a snowbird who split her time between Florida and her home in New York, according to her son, Bill Parry.
Martha Parry was killed Thursday when an airplane crashed into her Clearwater mobile home in the Bayside Waters 55+ community. Parry was a snowbird who split her time between Florida and her home in New York, according to her son, Bill Parry. [ Courtesy of Bill Parry ]
Published Feb. 5|Updated Feb. 6

When police knocked on the door to Martha Parry’s New York home Friday afternoon, no one was there to answer it.

A neighbor greeted the officers and put them in touch with her son, Bill. When police showed him a photo of a diamond necklace he recognized it immediately.

“It’s something she wore every day,” he said.

Parry, 86, was killed alongside two others in a fiery airplane crash at a Clearwater mobile home community Thursday evening. When the plane struck her home at 2647 Pagoda Drive, it killed her and a friend, Mary Ellen Pender, 54, of Treasure Island. Jemin Patel, the pilot of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35, also died.

Bill Parry, 62, said Monday the family is in shock. He can’t understand how the plane landed squarely on his mother’s home with little damage to nearby structures.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” he said. “What are the odds?”

Clearwater police said Friday that nine people were inside the home just minutes before the crash. Parry had been hosting her friends after an afternoon of golfing, her son said. The group of women were celebrating a milestone in their golf league season.

Pender had stayed behind to help clean while the others left Parry’s home.

“It was literally five minutes later,” her son said. “They weren’t even back in their houses.”

Bill Parry said his mother had wintered in Florida for more than 15 years. This season was her first in the newly remodeled Bayside Waters mobile home. She moved there to be closer to her friends, he said.

“She was always happy, and I cannot tell you how happy she was to be in this community,” he said. “She really enjoyed life.”

Parry worked as an insurance broker in New York for more than 30 years. She was active in the National Women’s Business Association and New York’s Head Start development programs for low-income children. Her husband died in 1994 and she never remarried, her son said.

She was an avid traveler and made two international trips annually. She planned to visit Costa Rica and Dubai this year. Now her son is scrambling to cancel the trips.

He last spoke to her a day before the fatal crash. She answered the phone and teased him, saying, “You do love me.”

“She was always joking. We talked at least once a week,” he said.

Martha Parry typically spent Christmas with her family in New York before traveling to Florida in January to get out of the cold, according to her family. In this photo taken in 2022, she is surrounded by her grandchildren.
Martha Parry typically spent Christmas with her family in New York before traveling to Florida in January to get out of the cold, according to her family. In this photo taken in 2022, she is surrounded by her grandchildren. [ Courtesy of Bill Parry ]

Parry’s only daughter, Kathryn, had planned to visit over the weekend, according to Bill Parry. Instead, she was home grieving with her two siblings.

“My mother was very excited to have her come down to the place because this was her first time in that community, and she really wanted her to see it,” he said.

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Bill Parry said he wanted to come to Clearwater to see if any of his mom’s belongings could be salvaged, but both the medical examiner and the police officer he spoke with suggested he stay in New York because “there was nothing left” of the home.

“I’m taking their advice,” he said.

The family plans to hold a wake early next week in New York.

Parry is survived by three children and 11 grandchildren, all of whom have been devastated by her death.

“We really even haven’t had time to really think or process,” her son said. “We’re just crushed.”

Editor’s note: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story used an incorrect name for Martha Parry’s daughter.