Denise Tomlan, a South Pasadena resident for 24 years, died on May 4th, 2022, from ovarian cancer at the age of 62, 18 months after her original diagnosis.
Denise was the mother of Leo Parker IV and wife of Leo Parker III. She was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, home of Arnold Palmer and Rolling Rock beer, both of which she did not take a liking to. Her family left Pennsylvania, and she grew up in Bristol, Connecticut, where she was one of the first girls in her high school to take its mechanical drawing class. Her teacher recognized her skills and suggested architecture.
On a whim, she applied to the University of Southern California, was accepted, and flew across the country for an architecture undergraduate degree. Her time at USC was a time of late-night residential model building and smoking clove cigarettes.
After graduating, she spent time selling bikinis in Manhattan Beach, worked for multiple L.A.-based architecture firms, then decided she wanted to run her own shop, setting up her own firm in 1991. She loved her work and helped craft valuable and much appreciated residential spaces in South Pasadena, San Marino, Altadena and Pasadena.
In addition to local work, she remodeled vacation homes in both Sun Valley, Idaho and Oceanside, California. She excelled in a variety of styles that reflected California’s rich and diverse architectural history. Her sense of style and extreme attention to detail fostered close-knit and personal relationships with her clients. She despised the color pink and the sounds of both squeaky shoes on a basketball court and Kenny G.
When she wasn’t looking at AutoCAD or reading non-fiction books about the Victorian Era, she enjoyed traveling and was superb at choosing unique vacations, lodging and experiences that captured the true feel of a location. A trip with Denise was a crash course, whether you liked it or not, in columns, fenestrations and ornamentation, as she strolled through the many places she visited, taking photos and generally walking quite slow.
A dinner party at her house meant delicious food, terrific cocktails and wine, and an ambience of comfort, fun, and wit.
Denise is pre-deceased by her brother Bruce, and is survived by her husband, Leo Parker III, and her only, but favorite son, Leo Parker IV. She lives on in the many homes that bring joy to their families, and in the hearts of her friends, family and two cats.
A private Celebration of Life gathering will be held at a later date.
In lieu of a funeral or donations, Denise would want you to open that tasty bottle of wine you’ve been sitting on for too long, enjoy a refreshing gin and tonic during the summer, or get back to that needlepoint project.