A TRIBUTE to our brother John Parker Jr. who died on February 2nd at age 67.
John was a complicated but endearing guy who was always trying inventive ways to better manage life from his wheelchair for himself and others. His life was framed but not limited by a spinal cord injury at the age of 17, leaving him an incomplete quadriplegic .
John was easy going yet stubborn. This stubbornness propelled him to be a rescuer and persist in doing many generous acts of kindness. Like the day of a heavy snow fall at Regina Manor when he attached a piece of plywood to his wheelchair and became a one man shovel so that his elderly neighbors could safely get to doctors appointments.
We will always remember John's ready light up smile and twinkling blue eyes. He was also known by his CB “shaky legs” and was trouble in action and delighted in being a jokester. He even sent must-have household fix it surprise gifts from the Home Shopping Network. You might even get two.
John was a 1971 graduate of Rogers High School, attended Goodwill Business School and took classes at UT Community College. He briefly worked at Sears in the shoe department and is infamous for tipping over the kids light up shoe display, setting off a frenzy of flashing tiny shoes.
In his youth he was an Eagle Scout and attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Pennsylvania. John was a great mechanic, loved to fish, managed to build model cars and windmill flower planters with power tools in spite of limited use of his hands.
John was always an avid NASCAR fan and a highlight of his young life was being carried up the stairs in his wheelchair by Richard Petty's family and crew to meet Richard Petty and attend his party. He later was invited as a VIP guest into the pit to watch the race. Two years ago he was reintroduced to Richard Petty at a Toledo Marathon event.
Probably John's greatest accomplishment was to have the good fortune of spending 25 plus years with his amazing, devoted and loving wife Cindy, who joined her angels in 2011. We will always remember their gentle magical wedding and wheelchair dancing. In wheelchairs they managed to camp in the Smokey Mountains and many years later agreed to endure a cross country train adventure with Dad John to the Pacific Northwest to see the ocean and mountains.
John and Cindy loved being independent, advocated for others before themselves and together made a difference in their communities. They shared the love of country western music and Tony Packo hotdogs, Papa John pizza and Ventura's enchiladas, Mom's vegetable soup and, of course, lake perch.
John was a loyal and loving husband, son, brother, uncle and cousin. He touched all of us with his generous heart.
We know John and Cindy would have loved to have thanked his family and all the agencies and unnamed people who helped to create a kinder, accessible good life for them. They would thank BVR, The Ability Center, Goodwill Industries and Hope Manor.
They would give forever thanks and hugs to Big Sis Shirley, Barbara Jean, Sharon and Northwest Sisters Jackie and Julie. Brother Daryel was forever patient and invaluable and Larry shared his love of racing and cars. Nephews Jamie, Mark and Ryan were always great helpers and gentle nephew Rob had a special place in John's heart. Nieces Terri , Karen and Janet were kind and caring. Thank you cousin Kevin for all of your good deeds. Thank you Terri K, Bobby C, Bryan K, Cathy KK, Dave and Jean, roommate Harold, kind nurse Linda and adopted sister Hospice Mary.
John will always be our little big brother, infuriating while still being lovable. Dad was his best friend and Mom made him feel safe and even dressed him up in a child size bunny costume for Easter after giving him a permanent so he would have curly hair like Dad's.
We are already missing you, John, and we know that your jokester would laugh if you realized that you escaped all of us on that old Groundhog Day. That means that you will keep reappearing with a crooked grin and a long story and tell us not to worry...that you will be okay. We will always hold your warm and enduring spirit in our hearts and be thankful you were one of a kind and landed in this wild family.
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