An estimated 250 people gathered Saturday afternoon in a small cemetery in Wytopitlock to celebrate the young mother whose life was abruptly cut short last week in a crash off Interstate 95 in Old Town.
Liza Jade Parker, 26, died after her car crashed Sept. 24 into a heavily wooded median strip along the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Old Town. Her two small children, 5-year-old Mason Worcester and 1½-year-old Tiaona Robinson, were secured in car seats and suffered minor injuries.
Parker’s car was not found until the following day, when it was spotted by a passing tractor-trailer driver, according to police.
Saturday’s graveside service took place on a sunny, cool, crisp autumn day at Evergreen Cemetery, where her great-grandparents, Dale and Wilma Dow, are buried.
Set up near the Dows’ grave was a display of photos of Parker and her children, a framed poem, pink flowers and candles and some mementos from her childhood, including the tiny pink dress she wore home from the hospital shortly after she was born.
“I wouldn’t have it any other place and neither would Liza,” her brother, Rory Parker of West Palm Beach, Florida, said before the service began.
Parker’s grandmother, Marilyn Dow, said she and her husband, Rodger, were devastated by the untimely death because out of all of their 12 grandchildren, she was the only granddaughter.
“Liza was his diamond. That’s what he called her. It’s terrible at home, terrible. You can’t expect anything different,” Dow said.
“We would feel the same if we lost any of our family members, any of our other grandchildren but the difficult part is that she was the only granddaughter,” Dow said. “ She was Puppa’s girl. They had a wonderful relationship.”
Dow said she, Liza’s mother Shauna Dow and several other family members were drawing strength from the Jehovah’s Witness community to which they belong.
On hand were family, friends and many of the people who were part of the support network that helped her beat an addiction to heroin more than a year ago.
Parker’s success on that front captured the attention of Gov. Paul LePage, who held her up as a role model during a visit from former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway.
During the service, Brother Rory Merrill from the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bangor shared memories about the young mother that family and friends told to him.
Common themes from those who knew her included her devotion to her children, her smile and the twinkle in her eye and the strength and courage she showed during her battle with addiction.
Rory Parker had this to say:
“Liza did not suffer. She left this world in the best possible version of herself and her life. She was amazing. I miss my sister. I love my sister and always will.”
Parker was reported missing after she did not show up in Howland for a meeting with her son’s father in Howland scheduled for Sept. 24.
It’s still not clear what caused the crash, which remains under investigation by Maine State Police.
“It was just an accident. She drifted off the road,” her brother Rory said. “She died instantly. She did not suffer.”
Parker died from head and neck injuries she suffered in the crash, according to autopsy results released Wednesday by Mark Belserene, spokesman for the state medical examiner’s office. Belserene also said the manner of her death was ruled accidental.