On May 23, 2023, I lost my best friend and co-conspirator with the passing of Inside Columbia magazine’s publisher Melody Garnett Parry. We had been married for 30 years and her absence is deeply felt. Beyond the loss felt by myself and our two sons, our community has lost a great leader and an exuberant cheerleader.
I first met Melody at the University of Missouri in the fall semester of 1985. We were both students in Henry Hager’s advertising copywriting class at the Missouri School of Journalism. I like to tell people that Melody won the lottery when it came to that particular semester’s seating chart, as she had the great distinction of sitting between the class clown and the class stud that semester. On one side was Fred Parry and on the other side was a guy named Brad Pitt.
None of us knew it at the time, but one of those guys would go on to meet his destiny entertaining her on the silver screen, and the other would one day meet his destiny shopping for her groceries, cooking her meals and washing her car.
Brad Pitt would go on to become a billionaire, date Gwyneth Paltrow and marry Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie, but it was Fred Parry who took home the gold and won life’s lottery.
Melody’s foundational cornerstones were faith, family and lifelong friendships. These three things were her superpowers. In the outpouring of condolences received in recent weeks are the common themes of joy, laughter, kindness and selflessness.
Not only was Melody an outstanding human being, but she also was a savvy businesswoman. She went above and beyond the call of duty for her clients just as she did for the readers of her magazines. Everything she did was with humility and modesty. She didn’t boast about her accomplishments or resume. Before joining Inside Columbia, Melody was the founder of Outfront Communications, a successful marketing and public relations firm. She co-founded 15 award-winning magazines as part of her 37-year career in public relations, marketing and publishing.
Melody was the founder of the annual Columbia Christian Women’s Conference and hosted the National Speaking of Women’s Health conferences in Columbia for several years. She founded the Women’s Health Care Alliance, which helped educate women about their own health while providing financial support to many worthwhile organizations in our community. She served on numerous boards including True North, the American Heart Association, INVEST, LOVE Columbia and the Columbia Independent School. She co-chaired the capital campaign that doubled the capacity of The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
Melody had a servant’s heart. She organized several mission trips to Malawi, Africa, to serve widows and orphans devastated by the AIDS epidemic. When refugees escaping genocide in Myanmar relocated to Columbia, Melody eagerly adopted a family and helped them acclimate to a new culture.
In addition to her generous heart for others, Melody had an amazing and adventurous spirit. She was a proud member of the Show Me Pickleball Club and was a “beast” on the court. She hiked the Grand Canyon, ran the Chicago Marathon, bicycled across the state of Missouri and won a limbo contest on a cruise ship when she was five months pregnant. She loved to travel, hike up mountains and once surfed the infamous Witch’s Rock in Costa Rica. She was willing to do all the crazy things her sons challenged her to do.
Melody loved her Zimmer Communications family and they loved her back. When we sold this magazine to the Zimmers in 2017, Melody was welcomed with open arms. She loved the culture at Zimmer and quickly made it her goal to win the annual Halloween costume and Christmas door decorating contests every year. She always looked forward to going to work and made great friends there.
One of Melody’s legacies will be the example she set for living life to the fullest and not wasting a single minute. Even with two bouts of cancer and a sudden lung disease that quickly took her life, she NEVER complained. She had a sunny perspective and cared more for the people around her than her own problems.
At the end of her life, Melody had very few regrets. She had accomplished so many things, touched so many lives and if Melody loved you, you knew it. Her life was shorter than we had hoped, but it was a GREAT life and a life truly lived to its fullest.
What a wonderful gift it was to have known her and loved her. She will be missed by many.
In the meantime, we will take comfort in the assurance that we will see her again.
Godspeed, sweet Melody!
Fred Parry is the founder and publisher emeritus of Inside Columbia magazine.