printed 06/08/2018


Stephen N. Parker passed away peacefully in his home in Whaleyville, Maryland on May 28, 2018.

Stephen is survived by his loving wife, Lisa Challenger; his daughter and son-in-law, Elisabeth and Richard of Tacoma, Washington; his son and daughter-in-law, Gabriel and Allison of Plymouth, Massachusetts; and his daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Brian of Somerville, Massachusetts; his grandchildren, Gigi, Ethan, Madison and Julian; his stepdaughters, Natalie, Mackenzie and Olivia; his brother-in-law, John Raye; brother, George Parker; and brother and sister-in-law, Philip and Lisa Parker; adored and adoring nieces and nephews, and loyal but goofy canine companion, Tek.

Stephen was born in Buffalo, New York. He attended Cornell University where his passion for being a bit of a smart aleck gave way to a passion for ecology and natural history.

He began his career as a real estate developer in New York City, but always maintained his hobbies as an outdoorsman, particularly by fishing and birding in his beloved town of Chatham, Massachusetts.

Years later, he returned to his original calling, moving to the Eastern Shore of Virginia to work for the Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve, where he ultimately became the director.

He was extremely proud of their work, and relished in the opportunity to discuss their eelgrass restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay, the most successful project of its kind.

He was deeply committed to nature in both work and life, as evidenced by his choice to live in a rustic, century-old house on a salt marsh for years. He passed this love of the natural world on to his children and grandchildren.

Stephen was also highly active in his community on the ESVA, working for causes that simultaneously benefitted needy communities and the environment. As a founding board member of the Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, he revitalized a neighborhood by creating affordable housing, a working farm to support the community, and building a sustainable water management system.

Through his civic work he won awards from the Northampton NAACP and the Partnership for Livable Communities.

Upon Stephen’s retirement from the Nature Conservancy, he and Lisa built a beautiful life in Berlin, Maryland. He quickly became a part of the Challenger clan. They enjoyed their days full of dog walks, horse shows, gardening and local festivities.

Lisa was devotedly by his side through many difficult health challenges over the last several years.

Stephen always found joy in music, black coffee, the Boston Red Sox (when they were winning), books and family. Many will remember him for his dry wit, the likes of which Delmarva had never seen.

Donations can be made to the Nature Conservancy - Virginia Coast Reserve, P.O. Box 158, Nassawadox, Virginia 23413 in his honor. Arrangements are in the care of the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin.

Letters of condolence may be sent to the family at

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