Harley Verne Parker, a proud member of 'the greatest generation', passed away on August 2, 2014 at the age of 93, and was buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery on September 29, 2014 with full military honors.
Born January 27, 1921 in the Hayden Community,Van Zandt County Texas, to parents Charles C. and Sara F. (nee Kuykendall) Parker of Wills Point, TX, Harley was the youngest of five children. He played on the Varsity Basketball Team and graduated in 1938 from Wills Point High School, the only member of his family to have been educated beyond the 8th grade.
Harley enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 23, 1942 and served three years, both as a Gunner's Mate instructor at the Armed Guard Training School Gulfport, MS and later as Ship's Cook on Maui, HI. He was discharged on December 8, 1945 as Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1). Mr. Parker returned to Texas before he was recognized for his WWII service. In 2006, he was finally awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal; Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; and World War II Victory Medal.
After leaving the Navy, Mr. Parker worked at the A&P Grocery in Nacogdoches, raced stock cars with his brother Opal, and retired in 1983 as Service Manager, Ed Maher Ford of Dallas.
Harley was preceded in death by his parents; siblings Floy O. Goode of Dallas, TX; Opal L. Parker of Kaufman, TX, Carlie A. Cannefax of Tulsa, OK, and Charles C. Parker Jr. of Henderson, TX; nephews Freddie W. Parker of Garland, TX; Harlan T. Goode of Dallas; and Van D. Hubbard of Dallas.
Survivors include: daughter Donna Parker and daughter-in-law Judy Fields both of Helotes, TX; son Donald Parker and his fiancé Leslie Pope of Florence, AZ; cousin J. C. Goodwin of Wills Point, TX; nieces, nephews and friends across Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
Published in Express-News on Sept. 28, 2014
PARKER FULFILLED IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE NAVY. By Mary M. Heidbrink, San Antonio Express-News: August 30, 2014
SAN ANTONIO — Not every hero who served in World War II fought in combat. Some, like Harley Verne Parker, who died Aug. 2 at 94, offered support to their military brethren by providing food, clothing and other services.
Parker was stationed on the island of Maui, Hawaii, as a ship's cook in the Navy when the 4th Marine Division was there to prepare for what ultimately would be the Battle of Iwo Jima.
"He knew they were getting ready for some big push, but didn't know what it was," his daughter, Donna Parker, said. "He talked to his commanding officer and said, 'We'll give them a hot meal for dinner.'" Parker and his crew served more than 1,000 Marines a hot dinner every night until they deployed.
"His support role was very important to those Marines," his daughter said.
Parker joined the Navy in 1941, just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was at boot camp when it occurred, shipping to Gulf Port, Mississippi, shortly after.
"The purpose was to train everyone to be a gunner's mate on the ships," Donna Parker said. "While he was there, they interviewed the men to see what their background was, and he had been a butcher ... so they decided to make him a ship's cook."
After being discharged from the Navy, Parker returned to his native East Texas, living in Nacogdoches, where he and his brother operated a trucking business.
After marrying, Parker and his wife moved to Dallas to look for a better job.
"He was always a very good auto mechanic, a great fixer-upper," his daughter said. "He could fix anything, rebuild anything." Parker was hired at Ed Maher Ford of Dallas, retiring as a service manager in 1983.
"We were provided for very well," Donna Parker said. "My parents paid everything in cash, no credit; we weren't rich by any means, but everything we needed, we had."
A quiet, gentle man, Parker "rarely drank and didn't smoke," his daughter said. "He loved playing dominoes. They would have other couples over and would play 42."
Parker moved to San Antonio in the mid-1990s, living with his daughter for a time before getting his own apartment. A child of the Depression, Parker lived his life frugally.
"When he came and stayed with me in 1995, he built a shop," Donna Parker said. "He had tons of tools he'd kept since 1940; he said there was some time when you would need it. That tool, that screw, that bolt, that metal, can be used for something. During the Depression, you never threw anything away."
Parker soon made many friends playing dominoes at Casa Helotes Senior Center, fishing on Braunig Lake and taking up golf.
"He played in the over-55 leagues; was one of the oldest players," his daughter said. "He would contribute two-to-three good shots." Parker developed such a good golf game he won first place in the 85-to-89 age group in the 2008 San Antonio Senior Games.
Parker was honored for his World War II service in 2012, when the Honor Flight program took him and other veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C. The group visited the World War II Veterans Memorial, saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was able to reminisce about their experiences.
The trip ended with a huge reception, including an Honor Guard, at the airport.
"He was ecstatic," Donna Parker said. "They really got a lot of honor and praise."
SC1C US Navy World War II
Gertrude Opal Chandler Parker
1924–2015 (m. 1948)