(Orange, Texas)


October 1, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Parker

Orange, TX —

Seventy -three years or so ago when Wayne Parker saw the beautiful and talented Lois Richardson he knew she was someone special. As they went about their way at Kirby High School, he decided that courting her would be the most logical and important move of his young and busy life. Wayne was a stand-out student athlete at Kirby High, playing both football and basketball. The other players on his teams appreciated not only his athletic ability but his leadership as well, voting him Captain of the basketball team twice and of the football team their senior year. In between workouts for the varsity teams he represented so well, Wayne also found time to participate in the Tyler County Boy Scouts of America Troop and attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1937, making him one of the earliest recipients to achieve that rank in Southeast Texas. And if that weren't enough to keep him busy, he also participated in the high school band. Lois was no shrinking violet herself! She, too, was active in the school band, playing both the clarinet and drums, participated in school clubs and plays and had a wide circle of friends. One of her favorite activities was working at the local movie theater doing double duty selling tickets and then working in the concession stand selling popcorn and drinks after the movie started. She's a "classics" movie buff to this day.  As a senior Lois was one of five young women to be honored by a newly-formed committee of local businessmen who were establishing a festival to honor the natural beauty of the area. So when the booming voice of the announcer came over the loud speaker for the first time saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, It's Dogwood Time in Tyler County", Lois Richardson was a Princess in the inaugural Dogwood Festival. It is a family tradition that continues to this day. The Parker's daughter Linda Parker Koonce was a duchess to the Festival representing Bridge City in 1967, and their granddaughter Amanda Dearing Farrar was a duchess to the Festival representing Beaumont in 1994. After graduation Lois decided to go to school in Beaumont to study to be a hairdresser, and Wayne decided he wanted to become a machinist. That's how things went during the summer of 1940, but as fall approached Lois began to think that maybe she didn't want to be a hairdresser after all, and Wayne knew that he wanted his sweetheart to be his wife. As they started talking about eloping, they ran into one small problem: they were both 17 at the time, and couldn't get a marriage license in Tyler County because Lois' older sister worked in the County Clerk's office, and everyone there knew she was only 17 and not old enough to get a license! Neither Wayne nor Lois has ever been one to give up on a goal when someone says it can't be done, so it was off to Hardin County for the couple. Then, with their newly issued license in hand on Sept. 8, 1940, they were married by the Rev. Craig Fortenberry, father of Lois' roommate. Wayne worked at Oil City Brass Works in Beaumont after their marriage, and Lois went about the task of establishing their home in Beaumont. They made many friends in the city among their neighbors, co-workers, extended family and church family. They were among that great generation of Americans lifting the country out of the Great Depression with hard work and frugality, and shortly after their first wedding anniversary they became part of the greatest generation who took on the world and won in World War II. Wayne was now working at IDECO, and in 1943, the couple's first child, son Robert Wayne Parker was born.  As the Parkers were making their way as a family, Wayne was called to active duty in the U.S. Army in 1944, and was stationed at Ft. Hood, which allowed Lois and "Bob", as Robert is called by the family, to visit him via train. In 1945 Wayne's unit was deployed to Korea via troop ship. In the 65 years since, he has never expressed a desire to return to Korea or to take an ocean cruise. Upon rejoining civilian life Wayne returned to his job at IDECO in Beaumont. However, in 1948 he was called to interview at the DuPont Sabine River Works, and he began working there in 1948, and had a career that spanned 33 years at DuPont. In 1949, Wayne and Lois completed their family with the birth of their daughter Linda Diane Parker, now Mrs. Curtis Koonce. After eight years of the 70 mile daily round trip commute between Orange and Beaumont, Wayne said "enough!" and purchased property in Bridge City to have a home built for his young family. So in 1956 the Parkers packed up kith and kin and moved to their new home. Wayne had the shortened drive to work--about five miles--Robert and Linda had school and new friends to occupy their time, and Lois missed Beaumont. She recalls that she cried every day missing her home, her friends and family, her life in Beaumont. However, Bridge City was soon home as Lois became involved in Band Boosters, Room Mothers, piano and dance classes for the children and the family's participation in the life of First Baptist Church. Soon, Bridge City was "home" to the entire family, and Lois admits that there's nowhere she would rather live. The Parker's testament to that feeling of "home" in Bridge City lies in the fact that even though their home of 52 years was completely destroyed by Hurricaine Ike, including all their possessions, their car, mementos, and treasures of the childhoods of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, their home was one of the first homes to be rebuilt in the decimated city. On a long, busy street where every home was left uninhabitable, theirs was the first to be re-occupied, and it quickly became a beacon of hope and an information clearinghouse for those in the neighborhood choosing to rebuild and those choosing to move on to a different future. For Wayne and Lois, the lure of their home is the light of their future. At 88 and 87 years of age the couple is in remarkably good health and they lead active and fulfilling lives. At no time are they happier than when they are in the company of one, two or all of their beloved family members, sharing a laugh, a memory or one of their famous one-line zingers. On September 25, the entire Parker family--children Robert and Peggy Parker and Linda and Curtis Koonce, grandchildren Davy and Shannon Dearing, Amanda and Chris Farrar, Rodney Wayne Parker, and Robyn and Joey Kordish, and great grandchildren Karissa and Kyler Kordish, Trenton Parker, Hannah and Abigail Grace Farrar, and Phineas Hyde and Brock Avery Dearing, will gather to celebrate their remarkable lives and the love that has united Wayne and Lois Parker for 70 years. Whatever gifts are given to the honorees, none will be better than the uniting of this cross-country clan for one special weekend. But the elder Parkers will be handing out gifts of their own over the weekend with their own brand of wit and wisdom. None better exemplifies the laughter that has filled the Parker home for the past 70 years than Lois' response to two questions for this interview:

Question 1. So, is Wayne the Love of your Life? Answer 1. Oh, yes!

Question 2: And are you the Love of his Life?Answer 2: I'd better be!

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