A hard working husband and father that would do whatever it took to provide for his family, Donald E. Parker was a loving gentleman that put his family first. He was a man with integrity that knew he had to be strict at times when his children were growing up but knew how to love them and make many special memories with them.
Born December 15, 1932, Don was the youngest child of Alva Lee and Helen (Hayes) Parker. He was raised on the family farm in Steuben County near Angola, Indiana and had many responsibilities and chores. Among the things they grew were potatoes that they would sell out of the cellar and picking cucumbers to sell to Sechler's Pickles. Times were not just all about work though and he enjoyed playing in the creek with his siblings and friends along with going rabbit and squirrel hunting on Sunday afternoons.
At a young age, Don’s mother passed away and his older sisters helped raise him. They moved from the farm to Tri-Lakes, north of Columbia City by the time he was in high school. Don would go on to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. While at a party in the spring of 1955, Don’s life would forever change when he met Barbara Janese Lankford. With the desire and passion to spend the rest of their lives together, the two were married on October 7, 1955. Don would adopt and treat Barb’s son, Mark as his own and the family moved to Goose Lake. Their family would grow as they welcomed Daniel, James and Sheryl. Sadly, baby Sheryl passed away a few days after birth. Although this was a devastating time for Don, Barb and the children, they were excited to welcome one more to the family with the birth of Julie. The growing family moved from Goose Lake to a farm they rented near Columbia City. They eventually lived out the next thirty years on their dream property; a 20 acre farm they purchased off State Road 109. On the farm, Don had an Allis Chalmers tractor big enough to plant and harvests two rows at a time. They also raised sheep, pigs and a few cattle at a time.
Don worked at Dana Weatherhead in Columbia City for 38 years. In his earlier career, it was not uncommon for him to be laid off in the summer time and he would pick up part time work to provide for his family. He eventually worked into management and retired in 1993 as a supervisor. As his children were growing up, they would take family camping trips across the western part of the United States and stopped at all the roadside attractions. As the children became teenagers, he bought a boat and they would spend a few weeks each summer in Michigan on the lake.
With the children competing in sports, Don enjoyed watching them, supporting and rooting them on. Even when their son Dan played football in college, he would travel to Valparaiso to watch him. Don found relaxation in fishing, mushroom hunting, and playing cards with his family and friends. He was a member of Columbia City United Methodist Church, the Eagles and the American Legion in Columbia City and volunteered with the Thorncreek Township Fire Department.
After Don and Barb retired, they made the difficult decision to move into town. They sold the farm and moved to River Run Court in Columbia City in 1996 and then in March of 2016, moved to Plainfield. Don experienced heart ache again when on June 14, 2016, the love of his life passed away. Up until that time, Don had never been more than 3 days apart from Barbara except on one mushroom hunting trip in Canada. At the age of 84, Donald E. Parker would pass away on the morning of Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at Cumberland Trace in Plainfield, Indiana.
Survivors include his children, Mark (Tam) Parker of Columbia City, Daniel (Roselynn) Parker of Centerville, Texas, James (Gerri) Parker of South Bend and Rev. Julie (Kevin) Macy of Plainfield; 11 grandchildren, Adam (Kim) Parker, Aaron (Meghan) Parker, Andrew Parker, Alexander Parker, Kurtis Parker, Tyler Parker, Jameson Parker, Jacob Parker, Brenden (Natalie) Macy, Karlee Macy and Carissa Macy; four great-grandchildren, Allison and Madison Parker, Hayden and Elliot Parker; and sister, Helen Vonderau, of Seattle, Washington. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Barb; infant daughter, Sheryl Lynn Parker; brothers, Clifford, Virgil, Alva and Harold Parker; and sisters, Vera Briscoe and Marjorie Anderson.
Visitation is 2-5 p.m. Saturday, December 9, 2017 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Military honors will be presented by the U.S. Navy at South Park Annex Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest beside his wife and daughter. Memorial gifts may be given in his memory to Columbia City United Methodist Church. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send family condolences.