Compliments of Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966
Narvel Eddy "Nody" Parker, Sr. (December 30, 1943 - March 10, 2007), was a baseball player and coach, teacher, principal, and school administrator in Louisiana and Texas in a career which spanned more than four decades. He played and coached high school, college, and semi-professional baseball. For a time, he was the sports editor of his hometown newspaper, the Minden Press-Herald in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. He was also a part-time recreation director for the City of Minden, in which capacity he supervised Little League teams.
Parker resided in Farmersville, a community in populous Collin County, Texas, north of Dallas. His last educational position, which he began in 2004, was the directorship of auxiliary services for the Princeton Independent School District in Collin County.
Early years and education
Nody (pronounced NOD EE) Parker was born in Minden to Ernest Earl Parker (1902-1967) and the former Florence Cooper (1906-1975), who operated a small business. Parker went to school in Minden for several years but graduated in 1961 from the smaller Sibley High School in southern Webster Parish, where he played baseball and would later coach the Sibley team.
In 1963, he obtained an associate of arts degree from Panola College, a junior college, in Carthage, the seat of Panola County, in east Texas. He lettered on the college baseball team, the Panola Ponies. In 1965, Parker played baseball and obtained his bachelor of science degree in education from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, the seat of Harrison County west of Shreveport. He later obtained a master's degree in education from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, the seat of Lincoln Parish, in north Louisiana. He received a superintendent's certificate from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches in east Texas.
Baseball in his blood
Throughout the 1960s, he was the pitcher for the Minden Redbirds, one of eight semi-pro teams scattered across northern Louisiana in a formal league. The Red Birds had won the "Big 8" pennant in 1957, when Parker was entering high school. The semi-pro teams in small cities, such as Ruston and Winnsboro, the seat of Franklin Parish, thrived on subsidies from merchants who saw that sponsoring baseball was a good way to promote their businesses. The late Bill Hunter, whose family held a lucrative Coca-Cola distributorship in Minden, served as the business manager of the Minden Redbirds.
Two of the Winnsboro players, L.D. "Buddy" Napper and Lantz Womack, went on to serve in the Louisiana House of Representatives; Napper from Lincoln Parish, and Womack from Franklin Parish. Other communities with semi-pro teams were Bernice and Farmerville in Union Parish (not to be confused with Parker's last city of residence, Farmersville, Texas) in Union Parish and Sterlington in Ouachita Parish. The Minden Redbirds began in 1940, but the team has not been activated each year. Not only did Parker play for the team, but he coached for a time as well.
Parker was Minden's best known baseball player during that time, but the sports-minded community also produced major football players in Charlie Hennigan, David Lee, and the late Billy Joe Booth, Fred Haynes, Sammy Joe Odom, and Larry C. Brewer, as well as serious track runners in Jimmy Upton (1949-2003) and a basketball superstar in Jackie Moreland.
Parker began his long educational career as a teacher/coach at Texas A&M Consolidated High School in College Station (1966-1968). He then taught and coached in Karnack in east Texas (1968-1969).
Thereafter, he became the sports editor and recreation director in Minden. From 1970 to 1987, Parker taught and coached in the Webster Parish public schools. He left coaching in 1987 to become assistant principal of Webster Junior High School in Minden, a position that he held until 1989.
Returning to Texas
In 1989, Parker retired from Louisiana schools and returned to Texas for the second half of his academic career. He was principal of two schools in east Texas: (1) Broaddus Junior-Senior High School (1989-1993), a rural school east of Lufkin, and (2) Lovelady High School in Houston County (not to be confused with Houston, Texas, southwest of Nacogdoches (1993-1997).
Thereafter, he held three positions in northeast Texas: (1) superintendent of the Yantis ISD in Yantis in Wood County (1997-1998), (2) principal of Clarksville High School in Clarksville in Red River County (1998-2001), and (3) principal of Cooper High School in Cooper in Delta County (2001-2004), his penultimate position.
Death at 63
Parker died of an apparent heart attack in Hamilton, the seat of Hamilton County, in central Texas. He had undergone open-heart surgery in 2005. At the time of his death, Parker and his wife were on a short respite in Hico, an historic town in Hamilton County.
Parker was president of his local Lions Club. He was also a golfer.
Parker was twice married, first to the former Theda Beene (later Theda Lee), then of Minden, with whom he had three children. After the Parkers divorced in 1974, he married the former Delilah M. "Suzi" Owens, a fellow educator, school counselor, and a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The ceremony was held on June 28, 1978, in her hometown, Delhi in Richland Parish. They had one son, Narvel E. Parker, Jr. (born ca. 1979), of Farmersville, a police officer.
Parker had two daughters and a son from his first marriage: Jann Parker (born ca. 1965) of Oklahoma City and Deana Parker-Dzurik (born ca. 1968) and husband Michael K. Dzurik (born ca. 1964) of University Park, Texas in Dallas County, and Ernest Earl "Ernie" Parker, II, (born ca. 1972) of Edmond, Oklahoma. He also had twin grandsons, Michael and Andrew Dzurik of University Park, three brothers, and two sisters.
Services were held on March 15, 2007, at First Baptist Church in Princeton, Texas, Parker's home congregation. Interment was in Bayou Macon Cemetery in Pioneer, a village in West Carroll Parish, in northeast Louisiana.