Lt. Col. Frank Owen Parker (U.S. Army-ret.) of Gloucester, Va., died in the early hours of Nov. 2, 2012, with the same dignity and command of his circumstances that defined his long and eventful life.
His memory and spirit is carried forward by his wife of 50 years, Ann Caldwell Parker; his daughter, Allison Parker Gaschen and her husband Bob and their sons Collin and Graham of Williamsburg; his daughter, Valerie Taylor of Arlington; his daughter, Kate Parker Lanier and her husband Homer and their son Owen of Gloucester; his sister, Rosemary Moss of Katy, Texas, and many other family members and friends across the country.
Most people who knew him would describe him as being a larger than life man, both physically and in personality. He carried with him all of his life a love for his country and an enduring belief in the power of democracy and freedom.
Frank was born in Le Compte, La., on Oct. 20, 1938 to Francis Kendreth and Alice Allen Parker. He lived on the family farm in nearby Simpson until he was 18, where his rural surroundings inspired a love of nature and God’s creatures. He spent his childhood running barefoot through the Louisiana woods with dogs at his heels, helping on the farm, fishing with his friends and cousins, listening to the stories of his WWII veteran uncles, and blowing up the occasional outhouse with firecrackers.
He graduated from Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, La., after which he planned to become an English teacher. Frank was a gifted writer and yarn spinner, and remarked that he was always able to "feel" the adventure stories he read in his youth. His service as an ROTC cadet, however, led instead to his 23-year career in the United States Army. As a 2nd Lieutenant in D Troop, 15th Cavalry, 4th Armored Division in Schwabach, Germany, he was fortunate to meet Ann Caldwell, who arrived at the post as a recent graduate of Duke University to serve as a Special Services Recreation Specialist. After his future mother-in-law traveled overseas to make sure she approved of him, Frank married Ann on his birthday, under an archway of sabers (he used one of them to cut the cake!) in a military ceremony, and again in the courthouse at Nuremburg to make the union legal in Germany.
He served two tours in Vietnam and worked as a liaison with his South Vietnamese counterparts. He was a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College Norfolk and served as a War Plans Officer at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. In the United States, Frank served at Ft. Knox, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Monroe, and Ft. Leavenworth. He received numerous awards and commendations, including the Bronze and Silver Stars, and he was most proud of his promotion to Regular Army Lieutenant Colonel.
After his retirement, Frank and Ann and their family moved to Queen’s Lake in Williamsburg, where they lived for 20 years. He found great success managing sales at several new home sites in and around the Williamsburg and Tidewater area for Coldwell Banker Traditions. Ann and Frank moved to Gloucester in 2007 where Frank again found himself running in the woods, with dogs at his heels, fishing in streams, and playing pranks, but now with three grandsons, now ages 10, 9, and 6, in tow.
He became a devoted photographer of his family and the wildlife surrounding his home, and leaves a thorough record of the time he spent with his family. He was slowed down recently by illness, but still very much enjoyed being surrounded by family, his coffee and newspaper and, of course, political commentary.
Collin, Owen, and Graham, known as "the littles," carry his legacy forward with their love for playing outdoors, their pet dogs, their ability to find humor in the world, their stubborn streaks, and even recently, their spirited political debates. He will be missed, and remembered with a smile, by everyone who knew him.
Memorial service conducted by the Rev. Sven L. vanBaars will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at Hogg Funeral Home, Gloucester Point. The family will greet friends prior to the service from 10-10:45 on Friday at the funeral home.
Frank will be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
In memory of Frank, donations may be made to The Scholarship Fund, Military Officers Association of America, P.O. Box 320910, Alexandria, Va. 22320-9803 or the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society, P.O. Box 385, Gloucester, Va. 23061.