Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Dad

Thomas F. Parker, a long-time resident of the San Jose and Santa Cruz, CA areas, died peacefully at his home on June 12, 2011, with his family and loved ones nearby. A free and complicated spirit who touched the lives of all who knew him, he was always ready to give his thoughts, love, prayers, or helping hand.

Born in 1932 in Joplin, Missouri, Tom Parker lived in Oklahoma before moving to a farm outside Maynard, Arkansas, where he grew up as the eldest of four children. After serving three years in the Navy, he went to St. Louis University on the G.I. Bill, where he married Barbara Brennan. Tom graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he also received a Master’s degree in History. He then worked in the public library systems of Tulsa , Oklahoma and Burbank, California, before receiving a Master’s degree in Library Science at U.C.L.A. and working in the U.C.L.A. graduate research library. During these years he was also a devoted father to three children, Boy Scout leader, historical tour guide, bicycling companion, camper, and pool player with his family.

Tom Parker went on to pursue his many interests as an historian and information specialist extraordinaire, and never met a conspiracy theory he wouldn't test for veracity. He published articles and books on topics ranging from the importance of African Americans to the United States and Southwest Native American History to Facts on File volumes on violence in the United States from 1956-71. He also self-published a brochure on King Tutankhamen, and a website documenting the victims and circumstances of African American lynchings in the United States from 1865 - 1965 that gained the attention of Rabbi Michael Lerner and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. As an accomplished pencil and charcoal sketch artist, he exhibited drawings of Plains Indian dwellings at the Philbrook Museum, produced stationary illustrated with Santa Cruz architecture (1500-1865) and local scenery. In his later years, Tom worked as a technical writer in Silicon Valley where he met his long-time friend and companion, Carolina Burnett.

Tom is survived by his  former wife, Barbara Parker; his three children, Joe, Greg, and Sara; his three grandchildren, Alexa, Grant, and Benjamin; his mother Mary Susan Parker; his brother James Parker, his sisters Mary Sue Scott and Victoria Parrill, his long-time friend and partner Carolina Burnett, and hundreds of extended family members, friends, and prayer companions. He is also survived by his research, his joyful love, and his ideas.

According to Tom's wishes, he will be buried in a plain pine box in Santa Cruz , CA . After a memorial service at Santa Cruz Memorial Cemetery on June 15, 2011, 2:00 p.m., his family, friends and prayer companions will hold a celebration of Tom’s life at the Parker family home, 219 Oregon St., Santa Cruz. All who knew Tom are welcome. In lieu of flowers, family and friends are invited to make a donation to Eden Counseling Services, Inc., http://edencounseling.org, and to perform random acts of kindness in Tom's memory.