Friends, you may not be aware of a giant in the field of creativity, one who has been a creativity catalyst for people all over the world, for at least the last 60 years. Sid Parnes passed away this week, and I want you to be familiar with his depth and reach, because in your knowing of his accomplishments, you can appreciate even that much more about your World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 celebration.
Here is his obituary, posted by the Creative Education Foundation. The cartoon to the left was one he would show in class to show there is always a way to go beyond what you feel might be a block.
Dr. Sidney J. Parnes Obituary
Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, 91, Distinguished World-Class Educator, Researcher, Author on Creative Behavior
San Diego, CA, August 20, 2013 – – Dr. Sidney J. Parnes, who pioneered Creative Thinking and Creative Problem-Solving with Alex Osborn, founder of the Creative Education Foundation in 1954, died August 19, 2013 in San Diego. He was 91.
Dr. Parnes was the world’s leading expert on creativity, innovation and creative problem-solving. A lifelong researcher, author and distinguished world-class educator, he was one of the most sought-after inspirational keynote speakers and teachers for more than a half century. He was also the Founding Director and Professor Emeritus of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at the State University College at Buffalo and its Master’s degree program.
Throughout his lengthy career, he continued to update and perfect the Osborn/Parnes Creative Problem-Solving process which is currently taught at creative problem-solving institutes, seminars, workshops and conferences in more than 30 countries
Starting in 1956 as Director of the Creative Problem-Solving Institute (CPSI), Buffalo State College, he initiated its distinctive spirit for “deferred judgment and unconditional love”. In June 2004 when the Foundation and CPSI celebrated their 50th anniversary, Parnes said, “Those past five decades have been the peak periods of my life, especially my first attempts to direct a fully experiential institute.”
Parnes also pioneered research and furthered knowledge of creativity in 1967 by assembling the most comprehensive library at the State University College at Buffalo with over 2,400 volumes and launched the scholarly Journal of Creative Behavior now in its 46th year as a quarterly publication.
From 1967 to 1984, he served as President of the Creative Education Foundation and subsequently, Chairman of its Board of Trustees. He continued to play a highly active and influential role on the Board as a Lifetime Trustee until his recent illness.
As the foremost authority on creativity he has traveled to North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, leading countless conferences, workshops, seminars and courses for leaders in numerous professions. And, as a pioneer researcher and prolific author, he has made the most significant contributions to the field with a dozen leading-edge books and hundreds of articles, translated into seven languages.
Numerous organizations have expressed appreciation to Parnes for his lifetime contributions to the creative movement, such as The Odyssey of the Mind Organization, State University College at Buffalo and Creative Education Foundation with awards for Service/Commitment, Distinguished Leader and Outstanding Creative Achievements.
The Innovation Network recognized his immense contributions with a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2003; the Foundation inducted him into its first Hall of Fame. The American Creativity Association also inducted him into its first Hall of Fame in 2004 and in May 2009, more than 150 colleagues, students, friends and family gathered at Daemen College, Buffalo, NY to acknowledge and celebrate his endearing legacy. They cited his exceptional qualities: “integrity, wit, wisdom, compassion” and praised his “ability and leadership to suggest bold ideas, make brave decisions when faced with difficult choices, arbitrate positive outcomes and resolve differences. His demeanors in those situations,” they said, “were always warm, friendly and graced with humility.”
When asked, “Why such passionate pursuits to help everyone – worldwide – release their creative potential in their personal and professional lives?” Parnes replied, “Because creativity enables us to make our world a better place. Of all the gifts we have as humans, the one that stands out, giant-like above all the rest is our ability to be creative. It is responsible for all the progress we enjoy today.”
His key learnings:”Always appreciate the good in others and stay optimistic. I believe one can find opportunities in any problem,” he said. He credits his wife, Bea, for assisting him in his lifelong research and development work, adding: “She’s my indispensible colleague, my life companion and dearest friend.”
In addition to his wife, Beatrice, Parnes leaves a daughter, Susan; son-in-law, William Hartwell, a CPSI leader, and grandchildren, Alison and Aimee. His son, Robert is deceased.
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A note from Marci: Sid Parnes was one of my teachers, on many levels. His inspiration to begin a program in creative studies and the creative problem solving institute led directly to my being a creativity professional, and so with many others too. Thanks Sid. You’ve made a world of difference.