Carl A. Parker

Portrait of Carl A. Parker No Headstone Photograph Available

Full Name: Carl A. Parker
Location: Section:Statesman's Meadow, Section 1 (E)
Row:K  Number:13
Reason for Eligibility: Member, Texas House of Representatives; Member and President Pro Tempore, Texas Senate 
Birth Date: August 6, 1934 
Died: March 22, 2024 
Burial Date: April 3, 2024 

PARKER, CARL A. (1934 ~ 2024). The following is an obituary for Carl A. Parker, member of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas state senator. The obituary was provided by Melancon Levingston Funeral Home of Port Neches.

Senator Carl Allen Parker, distinguished lawyer, statesmen, and devoted native son of Port Arthur, Texas, died peacefully in his home on March 22, 2024, following a long illness. He was 89 years old.
A life-long public servant, Carl will best be remembered for his 34 years as a member of the Texas Legislature, starting with his election to the House of Representatives in 1962 and later to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1995. A staunch, unwavering, and wholly unapologetic proponent of public safety, public education, workers’ rights, and protection of the environment, Texas’ “Singing Senator” was a formidable legislative opponent who used his sharp and disarming wit and even sharper mind to stubbornly push his people-first priorities into law.  His humorous and sometimes scorching quips during legislative debate were legendary but were inevitably tied to persuasive points supporting the bill he was advocating.  His toughness was tempered by his pragmatic devotion to getting things done.  He was too clever to hold a grudge, and fellow legislators were often shocked to find that after suffering the consequences of opposing him on one issue, Carl was willing to become a crucial ally on another.  His ability to build consensus and, yes, even compromise, made him unusually effective.  Following the 1991 legislative session where Carl had bested the changing political winds in Texas and passed a variety of bills from school finance to creating a new environmental superagency, Texas Monthly begrudgingly proclaimed: “We never thought we’d say this, but … thank the Lord for Carl Parker.”

Carl’s devotion to the needs and hardships of everyday folks and his conviction to improve their lives was instilled at an early age.  Carl was born in 1934 in Port Arthur during the Great Depression.  His father Harvey was a refinery worker, a nationally recognized union leader, and was ultimately elected mayor of Port Athur.  His mother Juanita, who was herself unable to attend college, was an active advocate and zealous, life-long supporter of higher education.  

When Carl was 17 and working a summer job at Zesto’s, an ice cream parlor in Port Arthur, he decided that he wanted to be either a florist or a lawyer.  With considerable encouragement from Harvey, he ultimately chose the latter and went on to attend the University of Texas Law School. During his final year at UT, he met Beverly Stiegler, a student from San Antonio attending nearby Southwestern University. Carl’s children recall their father often shared that his two best life decisions were asking Beverly to marry him and becoming a lawyer, in that order. Carl and his cherished “Bev-o” were married in 1960 and recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary.

Following law school and his first legal job as a Judge Advocate General in the United States Navy, Carl returned to his beloved Port Arthur and joined the law firm Long and Parker (now the Parker Law Firm).  Carl was a lawyer’s lawyer who relished a widely varied and local practice that included criminal defense, family law, business transactions, personal injury, and even representing foreign governments.  Carl received but steadfastly turned down offers to join bigger and more specialized firms, preferring the variety, satisfaction, and autonomy of maintaining a hometown law office that helped and provided services to his friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens of Port Arthur, Jefferson County, and East Texas.  

In the later years of his life, Carl reduced his professional commitments but was anything but idle.  He continued to answer the call of community service, joining various government committees and working groups that supported education and economic development.  He remained a voracious reader who gobbled up books in a day and then ordered copies for his friends for discussion. He wrote an autobiography to share his personal history, wisdom, and life lessons with family and friends.  He stayed current with the news of the day and had no shortage of opinions, which he happily shared in op-ed contributions to local newspapers.  He became an enthusiastic user of social media with varying measures of success.  Carl also found time to retreat to his woodworking shop where he created toys for his adoring grandchildren and legions of holiday-themed figurines for his friends and family.  At age 88, he still traveled to and presided as Mayor of the Parker deer lease in central Texas, where he shot the self-proclaimed best deer of the season. And of course, until his last day, he continued to meet with and talk to family and friends to share his thoughts on life, laced with plentiful doses of his inimitable East Texas humor.  

Carl is survived by his wife, Dr. Beverly Parker; his daughters, Valerie Hintzen (Erich) and Chris Parker (Elena Labrador); his son, Allen Parker (Andrea); his grandchildren Andrew Hintzen, Emma Hintzen (Michael Martinez-Silva), Peyton Garrett (Jace), and Tripp Parker; and his sister, Karen Parker Trees (Bob).

Visitation will be held at 1:00 PM with funeral following at 3:00 PM on April 2, 2024, at Calder Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas.  In lieu of flowers, please send donations to:

Parker Scholarship Fund, P. O. Box 1446, Port Arthur, TX, 77641;
Gift of Life, 2390 Dowlen Road, Beaumont, TX 77706; or
Calder Baptist Church, 1005 N. Eleventh St., Beaumont, TX, 77702

Graveside Services will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 3, 2024, at the Texas State Cemetery located at 909 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702.

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