Kim Parsell, Affectionately Known as #wpmom Passes Away

WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow
WordCamp San Francisco 2014 By Sheri Bigelow

In the eight years I’ve covered the WordPress scene, only once have I written about someone passing away. It’s with a heavy heart and great sadness to inform you that Kim Parsell passed away last week at her home in Southern, Ohio. The cause of death is unknown and a small service is tentatively scheduled for this Saturday. There’s also a memorial type of event being planned for WordCamp Columbus, OH.

Kim Parsell The Photographer

Before getting actively involved in the WordPress project, she was an avid photographer. Almost all of the photos she published were taken on her property in Southern, Ohio. She had an eye for nature’s beauty and showed the world through photography how beautiful Ohio is. Her photos are so good that I think she could have made a living selling them as prints.

Springtime Sky by Kim Parsell
Springtime Sky by Kim Parsell

Kim Parsell The Contributor

Kim Parsell's Profile
Kim Parsell’s Profile

In the past few years, Kim has worked on improving documentation in WordPress as a member of the docs team. She substantially contributed to the effort of adding inline documentation to every hook in WordPress. Her contributions got her mentioned by Matt Mullenweg (11:00 minute mark) during his State of the Word presentation at WordCamp San Francisco 2014. She’s contributed to every release of WordPress from 3.7 to 4.1.

Being mentioned in the State of the Word is one of Kim’s best moments and it meant a lot to her. Sarah Pressler accurately describes the jubilation felt by Kim, “Can you believe it? Me!!! In Matt’s talk! Me!? I…just …. I can’t believe it. Little ol’ me. An old lady up there on the screen with all the kids. It’s official, I really am #WPMom now.”

Kim Parsell The #wpmom

The Docs Team Meetup in Cincinnati 2013 - Image Courtesy of <a title="" href="">Drew Jaynes</a>
Kim Parsell With the Docs Team Meetup in Cincinnati 2013

Kim became known throughout the WordPress community as #wpmom, a title she fully embraced. She had a way of giving people purpose, taking them under her wing, and showing compassion when it was needed most. As Carrie Dils explains, “Folks jokingly call her #wpmom, but there’s a lot of truth there. She was very much like a mother figure, but never EVER in a condescending way.”

In a comment on the same post, Amanda describes exactly the type of person Kim was, “The greatest thing about Kim is that whether you’re standing at the back of the line or the front she would have walked her way down that line to let everyone know they were equally as important and that the only reason there’s a line is because everyone can’t be in the same place at once.”

As Jayvie Canono found out, Kim didn’t put up with bull crap from anyone and had no problem letting you know about it. It’s how she told people which made her unique, “She brought people together and had the salty, country-gal personality who would not put up with your bull crap and yet would never break one rule of etiquette in the process of letting you know.”

Kim Parsell The Person I Knew

Sunset as Seen From Kim Parsell's Property
Sunset as Seen From Kim Parsell’s Property

Kim referred to herself as “The little ol’ crazy lady at the top of a hill in Ohio.” She wasn’t crazy but rather, an independent, strong-willed woman who at times was stubborn. A hard worker, she spent a lot of time in rural Ohio alone, “Chillin’ on a dirt road.” She routinely drove an hour and a half north to attend our WordPress meetup because there wasn’t a person within 30 miles of her house who knows what WordPress is.

When I started WordPress Weekly in 2009, she would often join me on each episode to provide the countdown before I hit the record button. She was occasionally a guest on the show as on episode 87. After the show, she would stick around for a half hour to an hour to talk about whatever was on her mind. In many ways, the show offered her an opportunity to connect and speak to WordPress people every week. The show was the closest thing to a meetup she could regularly attend.

She lived in a rural area where her internet was capped at 1.5MB, but it didn’t stop her from contributing to WordPress. Despite living on top of a hill in Southern Ohio, often alone, she left a lasting impact on people across the world. She wasn’t much of a speaker but at WordCamp San Francisco 2014, she gave a presentation on WordPress documentation.

Kim Parsell, You Are Missed

Kim, you’re missed by a lot of people, some of whom you’ve never met. That’s the kind of impact and legacy you’ve left us with. You’re an inspiration to become a better person and be more kind to those in the WordPress community. You opened your heart and soul to whoever needed help and ended every exchange with a smile. I will miss you friend, colleague, and fellow buckeye. My deepest condolences are with the Parsell family.

If you have a lasting memory of Kim, please share it in the comments.

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