Millie C. Parsons dies; stalwart secretary worked for the FBI for nearly 63 years

November 1, 2012

Millie C. Parsons, who never once called in sick during her record-breaking 62 years, nine months and two days as an FBI secretary, died Oct. 21 at her home at the Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring. She was 99.

Her death, from coronary artery disease, was confirmed by her trustee Robert Harris.

Mrs. Parsons was the longest continually serving employee in the history of the FBI, according to the bureau. She was hired in 1939 as a junior clerk-typist at FBI headquarters. By the time she retired on June 28, 2002, she had worked for more than two dozen bosses as secretary to the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office.

Her longevity — and stamina — had become something of a legend within the bureau.

Mrs. Parsons once broke her wrist over the lunch hour, recalled Nick Stames, who headed the Washington field office in the 1970s.


Millie Parsons, pictured in 1989, was the longest continually serving employee in the history of the FBI, according to the bureau. (Bill Snead/The Washington Post)

“She was in the office the next day typing away,” he said in an interview. “I have never met an individual, male or female, who has been as dedicated and conscientious as Millie Parsons.”

She confessed to The Washington Post that she was once 45 minutes late to her desk. Her tardiness, however, was not her fault. The elevator had stalled on the way to her floor. Barring such emergencies, she reported for duty most days by 7 a.m., if not earlier.

Mrs. Parsons took pride in upholding certain traditions, such as calling her boss “Mister” even when he asked her to use his first name. She came to work perfectly coiffed and always wearing a dress.

In 1989, when Mrs. Parsons celebrated her 50th year with the bureau, Stames told The Post that he caught a single mistake in all the memos and letters she had typed over seven months.

Her memory was no less impressive than her accuracy. Thomas J. Pickard, a retired deputy director of the FBI, first met Mrs. Parsons when he was a young agent. When he returned to the Washington field office 18 years later, he recalled in an interview, Mrs. Parsons “rattled off” his Social Security number and radio call sign.

Mildred Evelyn Crampton was born Aug. 17, 1913, in Frederick, where she graduated from high school in 1930. She was working as a secretary at a Woodward & Lothrop department store when she heard the FBI was hiring. In the early years of her FBI career, she worked in jobs including stenographer, radio room supervisor and receptionist.

She lived in Takoma Park for more than five decades before moving to Leisure World in 2002. A ballroom dancer, she participated in local and national competitions over the years.

Mrs. Parsons once told The Post that she might have retired earlier if her husband, Harry B. Parsons, had been alive. He died in 1967 after 25 years of marriage. She had no immediate survivors.

Before the FBI began hiring female special agents in 1972, Mrs. Parsons was sometimes called on for assignments outside her secretarial duties, Pickard said. On at least one occasion, she posed as the date of an undercover agent.

“She always successfully carried it out,” Pickard said. “She could play . . . the part of a lady any day.”

Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post’s obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.
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