Clarene H Vickery

clarene vickery

When Clarene Vickery moved from the District of Columbia to Vienna, Virginia in 1951, Virginia had no public kindergarten and very little attention was given to early childhood education. Learning of her experience in teaching preschoolers at the Naylor Gardens Cooperative in the District, mothers in her new neighborhood approached her about starting a kindergarten in Vienna. The result was the founding of Parkwood School. Sixty-four years later, more than ten thousand children have attended during the ages three to five, and Mrs. Vickery has contributed to early childhood education throughout the Commonwealth.

Mrs. Vickery was a founder of the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education and an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She served on the Executive Board of the VAECE for forty-five years and held several leadership positions during that period. For her efforts, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education. In 2017, she was recognized by the Fairfax County Health Department for her “more than six decades of promoting the health and well-being of young children.” Upon her 100th birthday, the Virginia General Assembly and Town of Vienna presented her with resolutions honoring her achievements and they were noted in the Congressional Record.

Mrs. Vickery claimed, in her words, "only the distinction of having served and loved children."

In addition to her work as an educator, Mrs. Vickery was active in her church and community. She was a founding member of Providence Baptist Church in Tysons Corner, and a 65-year member of Vienna Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday School and held other positions. She was the Greater Vienna Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year in 1987, she received recognition for her support of 100th anniversary of the Town of Vienna in 1990, was President and Honorary Lifetime Member of the Ayr Hill Garden Club in Vienna, and Grand Marshal of the Vienna Halloween Parade in 2006,

Born May 22, 1918, on a farm near Collins, Mississippi, she was married to the late Lt. Colonel Raymond E. Vickery, Sr. As a member of the "Greatest Generation", she supported him and their family while he fought in the European Theater and served in the military government of Germany. She was the mother of four sons: Raymond, Jr. (former Member of the General Assembly and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce), Donald (medical doctor and wellness author), Kenneth (Professor at North Carolina State University), and Steven (screenwriter). She is survived by seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren

Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband. Donations in memorial may be made to the Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education

The celebration of Clarene’s life will be live at and available at that site until Saturday July 6. It will also be live on Youtube at https// ; search Vienna Baptist Church and click on the multicolored cross logo. The event title will appear with a LIVE notice beside it. Click on that to watch live. The service will be archived on Youtube indefinitely.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Clarene was the most amazing woman. It was an honor to be a part of her life for over 42 years. My son still recalls with fond memories all his years at Parkwood and Mrs. Vickery. Her dedication to children was an example we all should follow. Clarene will be missed by so many but her memories will linger on in the hearts and minds of eveyone she touched in her long life. Diane Weiss, Parkwood Teacher 1983 to 2015

  2. Clarene will be so missed. I loved to go see her because we talked about fashion. She always wanted to know where a got my beautiful tops. She said she needed to go shopping with me. I could sit with her and talk for hours. We talked about grandchildren, Parkwood and anything else that came up. I told her that I needed to go back to work. She would always tell me, “I know your boss. I’ll take care of it.” Lots of love and God is taking care of our Angel now. Prayers for family to make it through the hard time. Love Linda

  3. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your loved one. When someone we love dies, it’s natural to want to see that person again. God promises us that He will comfort us in our trials if we go to him in prayer. 2 Corinthians 1:3 calls him the God of all comfort. I’d like to share with y’all this link that shows 12 steps on coping with grief that is good for sharing. I have personally found this very comforting and I hope y’all do as well.

  4. Aunt Clarene was one of the most amazing people I have ever known. She lived her life to the fullest and made those around her want to do the same. She meant and means a lot to our family. We are so thankful she’s in a better place able to hear, see and get around without trouble. Our prayers are with you all. Michael, April, and Maddi Yates (Carolyn Prince’s daughter and family)

  5. Please except my deepest sympathy to all of the family, friends and loved ones. Mrs. Vickery was an extremely special woman and a role model for everyone who knew her. She was always so kind to me, ever since I first met her as a teenager, when I became friends with Steve when I was 14 years old. Whenever, I could get down to visit from Delaware, she was genuinely interested in what and how I was doing, my kids and how they were doing and never failed to show her enthusiasm. This was truly remarkable as she was persevering through her own challenges in later life. I will truly miss her wisdom, kindness and her eternal optimism. I will think for her for the rest of my life. Andrea Stern

  6. My three brothers and i grew up on Olympian circle, just a short walk to Parkwood where we attended in the late 50’s to mid 60’s. What a neighborhood institution it was! I actually remember the May Day celebration every Spring.

  7. Mrs.Vickery was such a wonderful woman in so many ways. She always brought so much joy and laughter to our family. Whether it was me as a student of Parkwood getting a hug in the morning as I got out of the car in the car pool line. Or in the afternoons her waving good bye from the speaker box getting ready to call the next group of kids out. To being a wonderful friend and mentor for my mother Helen Ashe who taught at Parkwood School for over 25 years. The stories my mom would share at dinner would make us all laugh. Mrs Vickery hired me for my first job and she took a picture with me when I earned my first pay check. She told me finish and work hard at school because no one can take your education from you . To the Vickery family please know that I and every member of my family are so grateful for you sharing your mother, grandmother and great-grandmother with us. She was not just a pioneer for her time but an inspiration for generations. God bless and Rest In Peace. Love, Cecilia Ashe and the Ashe family

  8. The children of Vienna, Virginia have lost a champion and legend. I am now 47 and had the honor to be one of thousands of students at Parkwood. I was so shy and she was so kind but, firm and helped me acclimate to preschool. What fun we had at Parkwood! I would visit with her as a teenager and young adult and every single time she remembered me and was so pleased and excited to have a visit. Deepest condolences to Mrs. Vickery’s loved ones. Peace ~ Michele Herbstritt Ledford

  9. I loved Mrs. Vickery so much. I went to Parkwood in the early 60’s and still have such great memories. I also was a member of Vienna Baptist church from 1960 and still am today. She was and still is such an important part of my life. She had such a positive impact on who I’ve become. She was family to me. My two sons also attended Parkwood in the early 90’s. I can’t say enough of how much she means to me. I would love to attend her service however I live in Jacksonville FL now. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. Though I haven’t seen her in many years I think of her often and she is so dear to my heart . I love you Mrs. Vickery . May God bless you and your family. Sincerely, Mary Diane Pearson Burns.

  10. Clarene is remembered by our family as a cheerful, happy southern lady with a beautiful smile and Mississippi roots. She was also a wife of a military officer and our neighbor. She attended some of our Christmas parties and preceded me as President serving Ayr Hill Garden Club here in Vienna. Her popular Parkwood School for pre-school and early elementary school age children was well known and her pride and joy. She will be missed by many.

  11. Mrs. V touched the lives of so many families and children for a number of generations….sweet lady Rest In Peace! Love from our family!

  12. The Hoffman Family was blessed to have MeeMaw in our lives for almost 40 years and we are better people for having known her. Her love of children, the warmth of her smile and her incredible angel biscuits made an impact on all of us and we rejoice in her life and legacy. Fred, Dotsi, Joseph, Brittnie, Luke and Christina Ellen Hoffman.

  13. MeeMaw, as I knew her, was the kindest woman I’ve ever met. Despite only being the cousin to her grandchildren, she let me call her MeeMaw, a small kindness to a young boy, yet indicative of her compassionate approach to everyone she met. I’m blessed to have known and spent time with her.

  14. In about 2004, after calling up a few preschools, I remember calling up Parkwood to ask about enrolling my daughter. Mrs. Vickery answered the phone, and I said, “Oh, I didn’t expect a person to answer. I expected a machine” And she replied, “But isn’t it so much nicer?” And it was! We proceeded to enroll my daughter and then my two other children at Parkwood over the next seven years. That personal touch is what embodied Mrs. Vickery’s spirit. Her kindness, hands-on approach, and warm interest in all of her students made Parkwood a fabulous school. She was kind and generous. Even after my children were out of preschool, I would love to drive by Parkwood and see Mrs. Vickery on her riding lawnmower. She was an amazing woman. If the world were made up of only people like Mrs. Vickery, it would be an incredible place. Rest in peace, Mrs. Vickery.

  15. Mrs. Vickery was such a lovely, caring, involved mentor of the most wonderful pre-school, Parkwood. Both of our children have a solid foundation from attending her school. You can tell that her choice of teachers was done with the exclusive interest of the students, she took such pride in. We are saddened that Mrs. Vickery has passed, but she will be forever in our hearts. Brigette, Ron, Aaron, and Emma Friedman

  16. I went to Parkwood in 1974 and 1975. I have great memories of the school. I saw Mrs. Vickery at Lo’s Chinese Restaurant in the Aughts. Somehow I recognized her and went over and spoke to her. So gracious, she spoke to me like she knew me. What a wonderful woman!

  17. Parkwood and Mrs. Vickery hold a dear place in our hearts! ❤️ Things we will remember: May Day, her positive and calm demeanor in the midst of young children and their parents who were also inexperienced, the wonderful playground and the simple yet poignant school song – Parkwood, Parkwood we love you! Parkwood, Parkwood yes we do! We remember happy days and the many friends we made ? Rest In Peace – you were an angel on earth. ??

    • It has been said “to cast a shadow one must light a candle”. Your life has been a light to me and your shadow a path. I will think of you when I see Magnolia blooms, Queen Anne’s Lace and the delicate wildflowers. I will hear you in the wind as it whistles through the pine trees, the birds chirping, rain on a tin roof and laughter at the kitchen table. I will remember you when I smell the fresh plowed Mississippi dirt and feel your roots underneath my feet. I will feel your love and kindness at the touch of a child’s small hand and remember you! Your niece, Rhonda

  18. What a dame! What a classy lady! What a joyful, loving heart! A combination too rarely seen in this crazy old world. I’m more fortunate than most because I was blessed to have her light shine on me my entire life, from an across-the-road neighbor on Park Street and a student in her first class in Vienna to the recipient of her warm and caring embrace when my folks died a few years ago. Ray, Kenny and Stevie, as well as the rest of the family, my heart goes out to you. But I can feel that billion-watt smile beaming down on all of us

  19. She was one of the most amazing persons I have ever met. I miss her a lot and know that she is at peace in heaven. Love, Jieun Kastner

  20. I still remember watching a moon landing in her living room. And dancing the May Pole. I went to Parkwood for Junior Kindergarten to 2nd grade. She was a wonderful woman

  21. I have numerous, precious memories of Clarene Vickery. She will always be lovingly remembered. My daughter attended Parkwood Preschool for 2 fantastic years. She learned a great deal, had many fun holiday parties, went to lots of birthday parties, the enormous playground, The Halloween Parade around the Vienna Baptist Church with Ware Street closed by police, etc… I recall one day after school when Clarene was on the huge lawnmower. Other parents & I were amazed that she was able to do this in her 80’s. I asked her & she kindly replied “… the children keep me young …” Years later, I was hired as an Assistant Teacher. It is indeed a privilege to learn about, & to work with, young children. Love from my family.

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