Remarkable ‘Mayor of Parchester’ passes away

Photo and obit courtesy of Ellen Gailing.

Mary Lee “Peace” Head, who worked in the Richmond Shipyards during WWII and whose local civic work earned her the nickname, “Mayor of Parchester,” died on Thursday, April 13.

A remembrance of her life will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Parchester Neighborhood Center at 900 Williams Drive.

An obituary honoring Mary recounts a remarkable life. For one, it reveals how she earned the nickname “Peace.”


Mary left this life on Thursday, April 13, 2017 peacefully in her beloved Parchester home.

Mary Lee “Peace” Head was born January 31, 1923, in Shreveport, Louisiana to Jessie Ross Starks and Johnny Starks.  Both parents preceded her in death.  Peace was the second born of two daughters.

While in Louisiana she met and fell in love with Leroy Head, who enlisted in the Navy and was posted at Treasure Island.  After arriving in California, LeRoy sent for Mary to come to Berkeley, California, where they were later married. 

In 1943, during World War II she worked as a “Rosie the Riveter” in the Richmond Shipyards building Liberty ships.  Mary held a ‘Peace Prayer’ before entering the shipyard and it was there she was given the nickname ‘Peace’.  Through her contributions she became a part of our local and national history.

Later, in 1950, Parchester Village became their first home. To this union four children were born, daughters – Gloria, La-Wan Nel, and Brenda and son – LeRoy.  Mary had a very good life, all of her life.  Over the years her interests lead her to local schools where she received training and licensing in holistic medicine and reflexology, she earned certification in dance as well.  In 2001, at the age of 80, Mary received her high school diploma from West Contra Costa Adult School.  She was an honored member of the City of Richmond’s Commission on Aging. 

These numerous awards, certificates, honors and acknowledgements proved her dedication and service to both her country and community. In recognition of the variety of civic work done in Parchester Village Mary was lovingly referred to as the “Mayor of Parchester.”

Mary left this life on Thursday, April 13, 2017 peacefully in her beloved Parchester home.  Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Leroy Head; sister, Myrt; daughter, La-Wan Nel Sims; grandchild, Deondre Holden; and son, Leroy Head.

Mary leaves to cherish her memory: daughter, Gloria Head Gill and son in-law, Benny Gill; daughter, Brenda Sanchez and son in-law, Raymond Sanchez; grandchildren, Romas Anthony Stevenson- Head, Charles Johnson, Tina Wallace, Adrianne Holden, Kelli Thompson, Michael Head-Hartwell, Jamonte Simonton and a host of extended family members and friends too – numerous to mention. 


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