PARKER, WALTER EARL (1917 ~ 2010)
The following obituary was taken from the Denton Record-Chronicle, 01/23/2010.
Walter Earl Parker born July 23, 1917, in Fort Worth, Walter Earl Parker spent a lifetime applying his diligence and work ethic to causes for a greater good, especially advancements for his community and for education. His long career included service as a teacher, coach, builder, legislator and university administrator known for his integrity. Walt passed away at his home in Denton, Texas on January 22, 2010.
Following graduation from Fort Worth’s Central High School in 1935, Walt worked a 12-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week custodial job at Montgomery Ward to help his family make ends meet during the Depression. At the encouragement of his father, he left that job to attend college at UNT, then North Texas State Teachers College. Despite not having prior football experience, he earned a running back position at North Texas, where he lettered twice and played on the 1939 Lone Star Conference championship team. He was inducted into the UNT Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for his football accomplishments.
After graduating in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he married his college sweetheart, Mildred Brock Parker, who taught English at Texas Woman’s University. They were married for 68 years, until her death last year. In 1947, Walt earned his master’s degree in public school administration from Texas Christian University.
Walt served as a fitness officer in the Army Air Corps during World War II, ensuring that pilots were physically fit to fly, and later served during the Korean War. After returning from active duty in the Pacific in 1946, he resumed a teaching and coaching career that included serving as the athletic director and head football coach for Denton High School. He also owned sports and toy centers, worked as a general contractor with his building company, and was a farm and ranch operator. He served on the Denton school board, was a director of the Chamber of Commerce, chaired the city’s parks and recreation department, was president of the Denton Rotary Club, and was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also worked for 42 years as an American Football League and National Football League official and observer of officials before retiring in 2002. He participated in more than 300 games, including several conference championships, three Pro Bowls and two Super Bowls.
Passionate about public service, Walt began his first term as a Texas state representative for Denton and Cooke counties in 1969 and served five consecutive terms. He was assigned to the common carriers, elections and higher education committees in the Texas House of Representatives. Walt also was chair of the speaker’s financial advisory task force and vice chair of the appropriations, commerce and manufacturing, and environmental affairs committees. In addition, Walt was appointed Texas’ first executive director of the School Tax Assessment Practices Board and was an advisor to the alternative instructional arrangements subcommittee of the Legislature’s Select Committee on Public Education.
In 1979, he joined UNT’s administration as an assistant to the president and served as vice president and later as the UNT System’s vice chancellor for governmental affairs. Walt worked tirelessly to ensure the state’s continued support and recognition of UNT. He played a key role in securing funding for university initiatives such as the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science and improving services for students. Walt also was instrumental in the establishment of the Texas Higher Education Assistance Fund, which provides money for construction, renovation and equipment to universities outside the Permanent University Fund, including UNT. In 2004, he retired from UNT after 25 years of service.
Walt is preceded in death by his father, Lemuel H. Parker; his mother, Ethel Bradley Parker; and his beloved wife, Mildred Parker.
Walt is survived by his son, Walter E. Parker, Jr.; grandson, Logan Parker; great-granddaughter, Layla Parker; sister and brother-in-law, Jerrye and Hugh Hamm, Sr.; numerous nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.
Visitation is scheduled for Sunday, January 24, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at DeBerry Funeral Directors, Denton, Texas. Services are Monday, January 25, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, Denton, Texas, with interment immediately following at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery. Pallbearers are George Hopkins, Logan Parker, Kirk Simmons, Phil Diebel, Jimmy Killian, and Roy Culberson.
Our family shall be forever grateful for the care, nurture and love that Judy Pruitt provided to both Walt and Mildred.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the General Scholarship Fund at the University of North Texas. Contributions may be mailed to: General Scholarship Fund, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311250, Denton, Texas 76203-5017.