A Name on a Stone: Helen Rand Parish

TP1000484his plaque, for Helen Rand Parish, is unique in the park.  It is not on a bench.  It is on a stone.  Does anyone know why her memorial plaque is on a stone?

The inscription appears to say “Laissons Parler la Fantaisie” — Let the Imagination Speak.

The graphic image in the center, which resembles the number 5, is a mystery to me.  Can anyone help decipher it?


P.S. Dec. 31:  A Google search brings up this obituary in the SF Chronicle for Helen Rand Parish.  It describes her as “a Bay Area writer, linguist and social justice scholar who poured her considerable energy and intellect into promoting the works of a 16th century Spanish activist priest.”

Helen Rand Parish, obituary photo, S.F. Chronicle

The priest was Bartolome de las Casas, a Catholic missionary who traveled in and wrote about the “New World”  (new to the Europeans) and, importantly, criticized the atrocities committed by Spanish landowners against the Indians, and defended indigenous people’s rights.  He was instrumental in the abolition of slavery in the Spanish dominions and is considered one of the first defenders of human rights.  Parish began a campaign to have las Casas canonized.  She published several books on las Casas.  Parish lived in Berkeley near the UC campus from 1930 on, and died here in 2005.

Parish gave a presentation about las Casas in Los Angeles in 1992.  A journalist named Tom Bates covered the event for the Los Angeles Times, here.

Possibly the mysterious glyph on her plaque has some relation to las Casas and his time.

Helen Parish's memorial plaque is unique; it is not on a bench, but on a stone.
Helen Parish’s memorial plaque is unique; it is not on a bench, but on a stone.




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