Joe James Parker, 77, of Pisgah Forest, passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by his family, on Tuesday, August 27, 2019. A native of Transylvania County, he was the son of the late James Alfred and Ada White Parker and his biological mother; Mary Christine Parker who died in 1942. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Suzanne Marie Parker, 1965, his twin brother; John Parker, 2015 and a brother; Charles Sloop, 2018.
He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Maureen Parker, one daughter; Christine Patricia Parker of Apex, NC, one son; James David Parker of Clearwater, FL, two grandsons; Phillip Walley and Matthew Parker, one granddaughter; Jessie Dawson, three great grandsons; Joe Walley, Jackson Dawson and Elias Parker, one great granddaughter; Piper Pagegala, one sister; Rosemary Parker and two nieces.
Joe was well known in his community. He was born in Brevard and raised on his family farm along the French Broad River near Rosman, NC where he attended school. He served his country in the U.S. Navy, completing 2 combat tours as a Seabee in Vietnam, receiving numerous personal and unit decorations. He retired as a Chief after 30 years of service. It was after retiring from his civil service career that he returned to the mountains he loved. He designed the log home that he had built on a piece of land he bought that became his home in Pisgah Forest, NC where he lived until his death with his wife Maureen.
Although he had retired he never stopped working toward helping the community that meant so much to him growing up. He was driven to give back to the place that his family had loved and lived in since his ancestors had settled in Western North Carolina in the early 1700's. His great-great grandfather, James Madison Wood was the longest living Civil War veteran in Western N.C. It was this that sparked his interest in family history and led him to his position on the Board of Directors of the Transylvania Historical Museum.
Residents may remember his resurrection of the Annual Memorial Day Parade with the help of the American Legion. He outlined and scripted the entire parade, those outlines and scripts are still used today. When a Rosman High School student carved a memorial for local veterans, Joe bought a flagpole to go with it, had it installed, and orchestrated a formal ceremony to recognize the memorial's creator and the local veterans it memorialized. He was Lion of the year, served in the Honor Guard, and in 2010 received a special proclamation by the Mayor of Brevard where he was proclaimed to be “a true American Patriot.”
He did all of these things since moving home to the mountains while legally blind, a condition brought on by his exposure to Agent Orange during his tours in Vietnam. This condition led him to dedicate much of his time to helping blinded veterans and it was through this involvement that he became a sought after public speaker where he shared his struggle in coming to grips with his condition and how he was able to finally cope with it. He inspired those disabled by blindness and this ultimately facilitated his involvement with the North Carolina Chapter of the Blinded Veterans Association. His long and varied service to them led him to become President of the BVA, a position he held until his declining health would no longer allow him serve. He has spoken to numerous senators and congressman on behalf of veterans in Washington D.C., raised thousands to promote guide dogs for the blind, and volunteered to greet WWII veterans at the airport as they arrived to visit the WWII Memorial in D.C.
Joe was a husband, a father, a soldier, a friend, and a patriot. Anyone who knew him will never forget him. His life and the ripples he created as he navigated through it, will inspire and benefit many generations to come.
Funeral Services for Chief Parker will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, September 7, 2019 in the chapel of Moore-Blanchard Funerals & Cremations with Capt. Winston Shearin officiating. The family will receive friends from 1pm-2pm, one hour prior to the service. Military Rites will be rendered by the United States Navy and the Transylvania County Honor Guard.
Those wishing to honor his memory can make a donation in his name to the Blinded Veterans Association. https://www.bva.org/donate-blinded-veterans