For You, Kim

My fingers are wet with tears from wiping my face and my screen is blurry. I just heard that Kim Parsell, a sweet soul and dearly loved member in the WordPress community, passed away.

I’m shocked. Death is always shocking.

I don’t know what else to do but write a little bit and mingle my grief with the collective grief of a community that loved you to pieces.

Kim, this post is for you.

A Champion for Community

Kim is a lady who’ll forever be emblazoned in my mind as “taking me under her wing.” From the outpouring I’m seeing on social media right now, it seems that “under her wing” was a pretty crowded place.

She was one of the first people to welcome me (via Twitter) into the WordPress community. She’d laugh at my jokes, encourage me, support me, and share with me from her wealth of experience – all of that in 144 character increments. One time that wasn’t enough, so she called me up to encourage me to baby step my way onto the docs team and to not be so damn intimidated by IRC. That woman could talk.

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.

At Starbucks, we used to have this goofy thing called “Green Apron Behaviors” and an accompanying deck of cards. Management encouraged us to pass around these “Green Apron cards” to each other if we saw someone exhibiting one of the said behaviors (positive reinforcement and all that). The Green Apron behaviors are:

  • Be Generous
  • Be Knowledgeable
  • Be Considerate
  • Be Welcoming
  • Be Genuine

I don’t care if this sounds stupid, but Kim, you would’ve earned a deck of those cards many times over if you’d chosen a Starbucks career path instead of WordPress. Maybe WordPress needs to adopt those cards.

Green Apron Behaviors

Leaving a Legacy

Beyond just being a great human, Kim was one smart cookie. She was a contributor on the last 5 major WordPress releases (3.7 – 4.1) and made regular contributions as part of the documentation team. She was also no stranger to answering support questions in both formal and informal capacities.

Kim Parsell & Jose Castenada
Kim Parsell with Jose Castenada at WCSF 2014 (photo sourced from

In her spare time (I don’t know how she had any), she might be having a quiet moment on her porch, poking around in her garden, or picking up groceries for her neighbor. I admired Kim as someone who cared genuinely about others and went out of her way to be helpful, but also knew the secret balance of taking moments for herself.

I got to meet Kim in person for the first (and only God knew it’d be my last) time at WordCamp San Francisco this summer. Diane Kinney, thank you for talking me into going and giving me the opportunity to put a real-life hug on Kim.

I won’t pretend to know Kim better than I did. I could stand in the back of a long line of people who knew better or loved her more, but I know this: She made a meaningful impact on my life and I’m better for knowing her.

Kim leaves behind a family, too. I don’t know them, but I hope they know there’s a tidal wave of folks who loved her. We’re her WordPress family and we grieve with them.

Life is Short

I don’t really spend much time thinking about death until one sneaks up on me. It’s an awful reminder to tell people you love them, write a letter you’ve meant to write, say some words you’ve held off saying.

I never had a conversation about spiritual things with Kim. I don’t know what she believed. But by scripture’s definition of love, Kim lived a pretty good example:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
~ 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-7

Kim, I’m not going to grieve as someone who doesn’t have hope. I look forward to collecting my second hug from you on the other side.

17 thoughts on “For You, Kim”

  1. This is beautiful, thank you for your timeliness, I met Kim twice and she hugged me, and I have seen her a lot in IRC. She has given a lot to the community and will be truly missed. She was a very special lady. 🙁

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  3. 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.

  4. That was a sweet, lovely, and soul-searching tribute to your friend. I’m sure that Ms. Parsell valued your friendship as much, if not more, than you grieve her loss. There is an old song written by the legendary Paul Simon called “Old Friends” that I think about at the death of a friend or loved one. The lyrics include these words of wisdom… “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.”

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