A tradition of philanthropic giving can trace its beginnings to the immigration of a young couple from England in 1854. John Huntington and his wife Jane settled in Cleveland, Ohio, and there he established multiple business interests that contributed to his amassing a sizeable fortune. An inventor, entrepreneur, visionary and astute businessman, John partnered with John D. Rockefeller to ship oil throughout the United States. His philanthropic gifts were many, but most notable is the use of his estate, along with that of two others, to establish the world famous Cleveland Museum of Art. One of his children, William R. Huntington, was also noted for being a successful businessman, and was the father of Lillian (Patty) H. Huntington, the wife of Edward E. (Ned) Bishop. Ned came from a family which owned an important Cleveland firm, the early manufacturers of soda fountains and plumbing fixture
Ned and Patty married in 1914 and settled in Bradenton, although they traveled extensively, also, as well as often spending summers in Anne Arundel County, in Maryland. While in Bradenton, the Bishops were active in the civic and cultural life of the Bradenton area. They made generous and impactful gifts, anonymously when possible, to many of the organizations and institutions in the area today. The Bishops met Mary Parker, a graduate nurse, in New York in 1934, and invited her to be their nurse/companion, a role she had until the passing of Ned in 1962 and Patty in 1972. In December of 1953, the Bishops established the Edward E. and Lillian H. Bishop Foundation for charitable giving purposes. Mary Parker established the Mary E. Parker Foundation with her own assets in 1986, also for charitable giving purposes. In addition, Mary gave generously from her own account to meet community requests each year. Mary passed in March 2020 at 108 years old, leaving an incredible legacy of giving.
Learn More about Our Amazing History
The story of the Bishop and Parker Foundations begins with an English immigrant, John Huntington. In 1854, at 22 years of age, John and his wife, Jane Beck, immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio where he began working as a contractor in slate roofing. In 1863 he joined the Clark, Payne & Co., an oil refining firm. During his time there, John developed and patented many inventions for improving furnaces, oil refining methods, and machinery used to produce barrels for storage and transportation of oil. In 1870 Clark, Payne & Co. was taken over by John D. Rockefeller’s original Standard Oil Company and John Huntington became very prominent in the business affairs of Cleveland’s oil industry. He became part-owner of a large fleet of lake vessels in 1886, and later vice president of Cleveland Stone Company. He served thirteen years on Cleveland’s city council, supporting many city improvements, including a paid fire department; a municipal sewer system; deepening of the Cuyahoga River channel; re-organization of the waterworks department, and construction of the Superior Viaduct, the city’s first high-level bridge.
On his fifty-seventh birthday in 1889, John established a Benevolent Trust based mostly on his 500 shares of Standard Oil Stock. The fund provided charitable benefits to more than 40 cultural and educational institutions in the Cleveland area. He also recorded his will in 1889, establishing the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust with a goal of producing a “gallery and museum” and a “free evening polytechnical school.” Upon his death in 1893, the trustee of his estate, Henry Clay Ranney, who was also the trustee for the estates of Hinman Hurlbut and Horace Kelley, channeled bequests from all three estates toward the establishment of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Today the Cleveland Museum is internationally renowned for its substantial holdings of Asian and Egyptian art and it provides general admission free to the public. With a $755 million endowment, it is the 4th wealthiest art museum in the United States.
Mr. Huntington had five children, one of whom was William Robert Huntington, a successful businessman and for years the Commodore of the famous Put-In-Bay Yacht Club on Lake Erie. William met Marie Elizabeth Baldwin of Houston, Texas while they were both at school in Cleveland. Their daughter, Lillian H. Huntington, was born May 19, 1895 on the same street (Euclid Avenue) as John D. Rockefeller’s home. Her home was only a block away from where her future husband, Edward Everson Bishop was born. Lillian grew up in Elyria, near Cleveland, spending much of her time with her beloved pony. As an adult Lillian (Patty to her friends) recalled Mr. Rockefeller taking her riding some afternoons! She also recalled that she took voice lessons with Madame Schumann-Heick, an opera star of that era, which she stated she did not enjoy! She and her mother, Marietta “Marie” Huntington first visited Bradenton in 1904 where they stayed at the A.F. Wyman home. She and her mother were later among the first guests to register in “Braidentown’s” new Manavista Hotel, currently the site of the Courtyard Retirement Center in downtown Bradenton.
Eventually, Mrs. Huntington built a lovely French provincial residence which fronted the Manatee River on Riverview Boulevard in West Bradenton. She and Lillian moved to Bradenton permanently after the death of her husband, William, and she lived in her home until her death in 1934.
Huntington – Bishop Marriage
Edward Everson (Ned) Bishop was born August 3, 1891, also on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, as previously noted. His father was Kirke D. Bishop, a member of the firm of Bishop Babcock, early manufacturers of Soda Fountains and Plumbing Fixtures, a very important Cleveland firm. His mother was Lila D. Everson. He attended Holbrook Military Academy with his life-long friend, John Harris, later of Harris Paint Company and the later famous movie star, Adolph Menjou as close friends. Ned had a life-long interest in business and kept in close contact with the business world through his own study. He was an intense student of business affairs and a successful investor and financier. He had suffered from rheumatic fever as a child, and his business career was curtailed by a cardiac condition prohibiting him from being as active in business affairs as he may have wished.
On June 6, 1914 Lillian Huntington married Edward Bishop. Their double ring marriage ceremony, officiated by the Reverend Mr. Grant, was held at the Huntington home on Washington Avenue in Elyria, Ohio. The newly wedded couple left immediately after the ceremony for Detroit to board Ned’s new 45-foot power boat Chiquita, built especially for their honeymoon trip. They spent months going through lakes, down the Mississippi, and across the Gulf of Mexico to McLewis Bayou in Bradenton where Lillian’s aunt had given them a building lot as a wedding gift. They built their honeymoon home on this property on Riverview Boulevard, which was completed in 1918. After it was completed, they began building their life-long residence nearby on Riverview Boulevard with construction being completed in 1929. Both of the Bishops were residents of Bradenton at the time of their passing – Ned in 1962 and Patty in 1972.
During their early years of marriage, the young couple traveled extensively in pursuit of Mr. Bishop’s hobby of trap-shooting. Ned was recognized as one of America’s best trap-shooters! Lillian’s childhood interest in horses and she was known as an ardent and accomplished horse woman. She was identified as a beautiful and trim figure, riding her horse “Ribbon”, on a proper side-saddle around Bradenton. They shared many interests, especially boating and a love for animals. The Bishops also spent time in the summers aboard their yacht traveling to various parts around the United States, Central and South America.
While the Bishops resided in Bradenton, they were active in the civic and cultural life in both Bradenton and Sarasota as well as in various other communities along the east coast of the United States, including Annapolis, Maryland. Ned was devoted to sailing and power boats. They were well known in yachting circles and owned numerous yachts and other sailing vessels. These included the 45 foot Alice, the 45-foot Patty B, the 46-foot Ketch Lady Patty, the 60-foot Gaff rigged schooner the Derigo, and the 29 foot Mary Grande. Perhaps the most famous was The Ripple, a 134-foot motor yacht which had previously been owned by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. The Ripple had a crew of seventeen! It was sold in the early thirties after income taxes were vastly increased, and with its sale, the Bishops established what is now the Snead Island Boat Works, located on the Manatee River, providing work for the crew. The Boat Works is well known to yacht people and sailors throughout the east coast of the United States. It continues to be owned and operated by the Alderman family which had been instrumental in the operations of The Ripple, and were particular friends of the Bishops.
In the 1930’s the Bishops purchased a property near Annapolis, Maryland, at the point where the South River empties into Chesapeake Bay. This property, known as Quiet Waters Farm, consisted of more than 350 acres. The Bishops referred to this as “the farm” and spent summers there each year from the time the property was purchased until their deaths.
Mary Evelyn Parker
In 1934, the Bishops met Mary Evelyn Parker, a recent graduate from the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, New York. Mary Parker was born in 1912 in Kansas to Lester M. and Ella J. Parker, the fifth of their six children. She attended school in St. Cloud, Florida and after graduation moved to New York to attend nursing school. Due to the fragile nature of Mr. Bishop’s health, they invited Mary to become their full-time nurse and companion, a position that Mary held throughout their lifetimes. During the time Mary lived with the Bishops, their relationship evolved into deep-seated feelings between them. The Bishops also became close with Mary’s biological family, with holidays and family celebrations attended by everyone! After the death of her biological parents, the Bishops eventually legally adopted Mary as their daughter. The Bishops had no children of their own. Mary remained at all times close to her parents and family, as well as to the Bishops.
Lillian made friends with everyone she met and was known for bestowing Christmas gifts to all she came in contact with. She would begin acquiring gifts in midsummer so she would have enough to hand out to everyone – even people she would meet working in the hospitals. She gave over a hundred gifts each year for workers of the old Peninsular Telephone Company because she used the telephone! Ned was more reserved, dressing usually in simple khaki, and working with his boats and cars much of the time. He was described as a brilliant student, a genial companion, and a kind and gentle man.
The value of charitable contributions given during their lifetimes by both the Bishops and Mary Parker are inestimable and have had profound impact in both Manatee and Sarasota counties and to a lesser extent in Annapolis (Anne Arundel county) Maryland. Their philanthropic gifts have usually been made privately, often anonymously, and where possible, as was the case with John Huntington before them, accomplished on a person to person basis rather than through organizations. Their giving reflected their personal interests in a variety of organizations and non-profits working to build better communities. In fact, it would be hard to name worthy projects in the Manatee area that did not receive generous contributions from the Bishops and Mary, including the Conquistadores, the Pram Fleet, Boys Ranch and so many others.
In addition to financial contributions, the Bishops also worked directly in the community. Mrs. Bishop developed an interest in nursing and for several years worked both day and night shifts as a volunteer operating room nurse in the Bradenton General and Manatee County hospitals. When these hospitals became overcrowded, the Bishops matched community donations and grants, creating a new wing of what was, at that time, Manatee Veteran’s Memorial Hospital (now Manatee Memorial Hospital). This new two-story wing contained operating rooms, an orthopedic operating room, tumor clinic and a recovery room suite. The Bishops also provided surgeries for numerous patients at no cost as well as other medical care for people who were indigent. They were interested in theatre and were among those who founded the Sarasota Players Theatre. Lillian especially took an active interest in Bradenton’s Manatee Players Theatre, participating financially in the operation and construction of the original theatre building situated on 12th Street in downtown Bradenton. She served for many years as chair of the theatre’s Properties Committee.
Another of their interests was the South Florida Museum which originally began operation in a warehouse located on Memorial Pier in downtown Bradenton. The Museum was able to remain solvent largely as a result of anonymous gifts from the Bishops and Miss Parker. Mrs. Bishop played a major role in the 1966 construction of the new Museum and the subsequent construction of the planetarium. Only after the planetarium was completed did Lillian most reluctantly allow the naming of the planetarium after her departed husband. Miss Parker donated funds for Snooty, the resident manatee, to have a larger aquarium in which to live, as well as substantial funding to increase the Museum’s permanent endowment.
The Bishops had an abiding love for and understanding of animals and filled their home and properties with their four-footed friends. Lillian even had squirrels that she carried back and forth with her to their summer home in Maryland! Their genuine interest in animal welfare resulted in the establishment of foundations for the benefit and care of animals. The principal beneficiary of these foundations is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Manatee County. This foundation was created in 1957 and was deeded two tracts of Manatee County land, both of approximately 40 acres. The SPCA established an animal shelter on the tract which is across from what is now Blake Memorial Hospital at the northeast corner of the intersection of 59th Street and 21st Street West in Bradenton. The hospital was not there when the land was donated. After the death of both Mr. and Mrs. Bishop, the SPCA directors determined it was in the best interest of all that the animal shelter be known as the Bishop Animal Shelter. These trusts established by the Bishops are for the sole benefit of the Manatee County SPCA.
The Mary E. Parker Foundation
In July 1986, Mary Parker created the Mary E. Parker Foundation from her own assets. While the Bishops left considerable income and assets to Mary without restriction, the majority used for her Foundation was due to the sale of the major part of Quiet Waters Farm to Anne Arundel County, Maryland which turned it into the Quiet Waters Park. Miss Parker retained the part of the property in which the residences, a boat house and other support structures were located. She continued to use this property as a summer retreat as long as she was physically able. On March 30, 2020 Mary passed away quietly in her sleep at home in Bradenton, at the age of 108 years. Mary felt strongly about continuing the legacy of the Bishops and she took an active interest in ensuring the enrichment of the community throughout decades of financial support. Some of those institutions benefiting from her generosity include Manatee Memorial Hospital, the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Manatee Performing Arts Center, State College of Florida, Manatee Community Foundation, Turning Points, Bishop Animal Shelter, Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc, Mote Marine, and many others in the local area. Additionally, Mary sought out and supported many organizations around the county in the interest fields of animal welfare, supporting vulnerable people, nursing education, medical research, and the arts, to name a few.
The future of the Bishop and Parker Foundations is in the hands of four trustees and the corporate trustee, Wilmington Trust, Delaware, where the Bishop Foundation was incorporated. Wilmington Trust has managed the investments for both the Bishop and Parker Foundations for many years, and takes an active interest in the granting and impact of the charitable contributions of both foundations.
While we have made every attempt to ensure that the history as presented is from reliable sources, the Bishop Parker Foundation is not responsible for any errors or omissions.