TPW Commissioner Parker Leaves Conservation Legacy

AUSTIN, TX - Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioner John D. Parker died Monday afternoon in his Lufkin home, leaving a legacy of passionate advocacy for the wildlife, woods and waters he loved. The cause of Parker's death has not been determined. He was 73.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Parker to the commission in November 2003. The former homebuilder and past director of the National Association of Builders was also a past national trustee and past state chairman of Ducks Unlimited, among many other affiliations.

"John Parker was well known for his passion, eloquence, and the courage of his convictions, and he was tireless and determined in anything he undertook," said Peter Holt of San Antonio, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission chairman. "His passing is a great loss to those of us who knew him as friends, and to the cause of conservation in our state and nation."

"It was abundantly clear to anyone who knew him that Commissioner Parker deeply loved wildlife and the outdoors, and he especially wanted young people to enjoy the natural heritage and proud traditions of hunting and fishing he valued so highly," said Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. "His passion for conservation was legendary. Needless to say, he will be missed greatly by all of us who care about the future of his beloved woods and waters."

Parker was a champion of youth outreach programs, and he consistently pushed efforts to expand youth hunting opportunities and provide settings and incentives for young Texans to experience nature and the outdoors.

Parker loved fishing as well and supported a successful campaign to bring a new freshwater fish hatchery to East Texas, a facility now under construction near Jasper.

He was also a stalwart advocate for state parks and spoke passionately of the need for increased state funding for parks in 2006 at a time when awareness of park system needs was just beginning to build.

"In 1933, Texans struggling during the Great Depression found hope in a vision of parks that could enhance their quality of life and provide jobs and economic vitality," Parker reminded readers in a February 2007 opinion-editorial published in the Lufkin Daily News. "There is reason to hope that our state is poised to again make a wise investment, which will benefit all Texans for many years to come."

Through the efforts of Parker and many others, including fellow members of the commission, the governor and legislative leaders, the legislature passed a significant increase in funding for state and local parks later that year.