So - I have been searching and been unable to find an answer to this issue.
Basically, the problem is this: in the wp-admin of WordPress, in the menu section, the 'View All' tab of the Pages widget does not correctly show the parent child relationships.
Here's a screen shot: http://imgur.com/skh5X
In the screenshot above, Atlanta GA has many, many children that are not shown as children of the Atlanta GA page.
Here's a screen shot of the children that are associated but are not being show correctly in the widget: http://imgur.com/Cc93F
Here are the things we have already tried:
1) Disabling all plugins
2) Reverting to the 2010 theme
3) Increasing WordPress memory limit (using define('WP_MEMORY_LIMIT', '64M'); in the config)
4) Adding the following lines to the php ini (this has been known to fix WordPress' upper limit for how many child pages it will allow):
suhosin.post.max_vars = 5000
suhosin.request.max_vars = 5000
and subsequently restarting Apache.
I'm out of ideas.
I hope someone in the community has encountered this with a large hierarchal WordPress site.
The reason this is a problem is because it is very difficult to determine the relationships based on page name alone - see this screen shot again to get an idea of why this is causing a problem for our writer: http://imgur.com/Cc93F