George W. Parker, respected Missouri statesman, died at his home in Columbia, Mo., Wednesday, May 27, 2009. Parker, a strong advocate for separation of church and state, the two-party stystem, individual and religious freedom, and the U.S. Consititution, was frequently a guest speaker and commentator on these issues.
He was born in Joplin, Mo., on May 16, 1923, to William McKinley Parker and Eva Payne Parker. He is survived by his wie Louis Oberpriller Parker, of Columbia, Mo.; and four children, Peggy Parker, of Alexandria, Va., Suzie Nicholas and husband Nick, Jefferson City, Mo., G.W. Parker Jr. and wife Connie, of Denver, Colo., and Della Bennett, of Alexandria, Va. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Parker graduated from Nevada High School and attained a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, and a mastor's degree in public administration from Webster University.
Parker served 21 years in the United States Air Force. He was a veteran of World War II, starting as an airplane mechanic in the United States Army Air Corps private and rising to the rank of major. He flew 62 B-26 medium bomber missions, including D-Day, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Purple Hearts. He was a military advisor-instructor on the United States Military Advisory Mission to the Rupublic of China 1946-'49; he served as an intelligence staff officer in the Pentagon; as squadron commander of F-89 all-weather fighters in the American Territory of Alaska from 1954-'57, and associate professor/commandant of cadets for the Air Force ROTC at the University of Missouri from 1957-'61.
He served as the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party and was the first Republican elected (1966) from Boone County, Mo., since before the Civil War. He served three terms in the Missouri House of Representatives and was recognized as the "Outstanding Freshman" Legislator in 1968 from the St. Louis Globe Democrat, as well as "Outstanding Legislator" in 1970. He was selected to attend Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics in 1968, for 50 of the "most promising state legislators in the U.S." He was later appointed by Govenor Kit Bond as Director of the Missouri State Department of Business and Administration. He served as Collector of Revenue for Boone County. He was Assistant Dean of extension for Columbia College from 1975-'76 and authored the book "How to Win an Impossible Election." He was a member of the Missouri Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
He attended the second Missouri Boys' State and has been active in fundraising through the Pachyderm Foundation to send young men from Boone County to Boys' State through America Legion Post No. 202. He was a charter member of the Boonslick Kiwanis Club, a charter member of Columbia Big Brothers/Big Sisters and a charter member of the Columbia Unitarian Church. He has held membership in the American Legion, VFW, Shrine Club, and was a life member of the Nevada Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite of Missouri.
He founded two national organizations: The B-26 Marauder Historical Society, and The Grand Order of Pachyderms, a political awareness and education club with memberships in more than 16 states.
Memorials are suggested to the B-26 MHS, 3900 East Timrod St., Tucson, AZ 85711, or the charity of the donors choice.
A memorial service and celebration of his life will be conducted in the Columbia Unitarian Church, on Saturday, June 6, at 3:30 p.m. Parker's ashes will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.