Cover photo for Art  Parker  Jr.'s Obituary
Art  Parker  Jr. Profile Photo
1926 Art 2015

Art Parker Jr.

September 8, 1926 — November 27, 2015

Dr. Arthur Odenhall Parker, Jr., "Art" Parker had fun living outside the box, which explains why he enjoyed skydiving, including once when he was 87 and jumped out of a plane with his grandson. "That sort of thing gets the adrenaline flowing", he'd say with the playful smile he wore well through the years. Dr. Arthur O. Parker, Jr. passed away on Nov. 27, 2015, after a stroke six months ago. He was 89 years old, at peace in the knowledge that God had been good to him. He helped raise a strong family, was active in the Presbyterian Church, drew deep meaning from two very different careers, overcame steep challenges, and never let time dull his sense of adventure. Dr. Parker was born on Sept. 8, 1926, in Norfolk, VA, the oldest of Arthur and Ruth Parker's three sons. His did worked for 44 years in a Ford assembly plant, and while he grew up in the Great Depression, Dr. Parker never considered himself poor. His sunny nature, it seemed, blossomed early. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 1950 with a degree in Business Administration, later serving two terms as president of the Charlotte chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. After stints in Roanoke, VA, Greensboro and Atlanta, he settled in Charlotte with his family in 1959. His first career came in sales, where he served as President of Parker Packaging Inc. and pioneered the use of polyethylene in packaging for textile and bakery products. Some 30 years later, he answered a new call: He earned two degrees in Counseling Psychology, including a Masters from UNC-Charlotte, and spent a decade helping couples and individuals navigate marital strife and other struggles. His wife, Dr. Beth Brearley-Parker, whom he married when he was 54, was also a clinical psychologist. He considered her one of the most courageous people he knew, because of her optimistic spirit and the grace with which she endured chronic pain. Dr. Parker is survived by his wife, Beth; a son, Richard and his wife Pam, of Concord; a daughter, Sara, of Charlotte; two grandsons, US Army Capt. Matt Parker and his wife, Megan; Tommy Parker; and four great-grandchildren, Jaxson, Lux, Jordyn, and Jace. Tommy was the lucky one who got to skydive in tandem with his grandad. One of Dr. Parker's brothers, Ronald Parker of St. Louis, retired from the FBI, also survives. He was preceded in death by another brother, Gilbert Parker of Richmond, VA. Dr. Parker wanted to share how important Sister (Dr.) Mary Thomas Burke was to him. She taught counseling at UNCC and became a friend and mentor, teaching patience, compassion, and not rushing to judge people. Instead of flowers, a gift to honor Dr. Parker can be made to either of two charitable efforts that bear his name: The Parker Spiritual Enrichment Endowment Fund at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, 2929 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28209, or the Parker Educational Endowment Fund at Sharon Presbyterian Church, 5201 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC 28210. As it is for many of us, Dr. Parker's most rewarding moments came far from his office and life's other routines, pursuing the causes that meant the most to him. His lifelong passion for justice moved him to serve on the Regimental Honor Court at Virginia Tech, which made sure students carried themselves with honor and honesty. Later in life, he served two terms as president of the Charlotte Southern Lions Club, and went on four month long archaeological digs to Israel. He volunteered with the American Red Cross, helping victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and those ravaged by floods in Iowa. His commitment to serving God and his neighbors led him to build houses with Habitat For Humanity and take mission trips to Guatemala and Mexico. He was an Elder Emeritus at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church and later an Elder at Sharon Presbyterian Church, serving the congregations in a variety of ways. He was proud of his participation in the Ut Prosim Society, which honors those who have given mightily to Virginia Tech. An athletic scholarship there bears his name. He played tennis well into his 80s, traveled the world, enjoyed going on cruises, and adored every moment he spent with his wife, Beth. They loved their life together at the Southminster retirement community, the friendships they formed and tender attention they received. He enjoyed Wednesday afternoon poker games with his buddies, where there was more laughter than card-playing and everyone went home a winner. Art Parker endeared himself to all who knew him with the fullness of his years, and with the strength he showed overcoming the inevitable challenges, including alcoholism many years ago. In all the ways possible, he was an inspiration. With that playful smile, he'd just call it living life outside the box. -

Service Information

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 2:00pm, Sharon Presbyterian Church

Interment Details

Sharon Presbyterian Church

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