Service for man who ‘served the city and state well’ will be Saturday

Perched in his firetower, scanning the snowy peaks of California’s High Sierras from Lookout Point, 17-year-old Doug Parker could only imagine the heights he would climb in his career over the next 76 years.

The Fort Smith lawyer, World War II fighter pilot and former Arkansas Game & Fish Commission executive was a pioneer of many things from fishing lures to city government and Sebastian County lake development. He died Sunday at age 93. His memorial service begins 11 a.m. Saturday in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church and a private family committal will be at Rose Lawn cemetery.

“He served the city and the state well,” Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said of Parker. “He and his wife, Loretta, were always a beautiful, lovely couple, always holding hands.”

In addition to being one of the three people who instituted the city council form of government in Fort Smith, Parker was a charter member and chairman of Leadership Fort Smith, chairman of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and chairman of the Fort Smith Port Authority for more than 20 years. He was also a past president of the Fort Smith Exchange Club, a 32nd degree Mason, and a Boy Scout of America Silver Beaver.

“Dad wasn’t a guy who would brag, but he did a lot and he affected a lot of people’s lives,” Kyle Parker said. “He also loved his family. He taught me how to be a man, a father, a husband, how to respect people and their opinions even when I don’t agree with them.”

The elder Parker was known for both his veracity in the courtroom, zealously defending clients, and his integrity in standing up for what was right. He dropped his defense of Arkansas Loan & Thrift, the younger Parker noted, when it became apparent that the financial group’s leadership was not being honest with how it handled funds.

Kyle Parker, also an attorney and pioneer in legal software who now serves as president and CEO of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education, said his father may have been tough on police officers during trials but he would take them out to lunch afterward to show that it was nothing personal.

Douglas Walter Parker was born Nov. 21, 1924, in Pasadena, Calif. to Harriet and Walter Parker, who moved to Arkansas in 1930 to become a state distributor for the Arkansas Gazette. The family moved back to California, however, and Doug Parker graduated from Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles at age 17. He attended one year of college at Mount Shasta, Calif., after serving as a fire watchman on Lookout Point for the U.S. Forest Service in the High Sierras.

With the start of World War II in December 1941, Parker joined the Army Air Corps and received his wings in March 1945 to fly in the China Burma India Theater. Before his departure, he took a quick leave to marry the love of his life — Loretta Yocum. Kyle Parker said his uncle married his mom’s sister, so the family has double first cousins.

After receiving an honorable discharge in November 1945, Doug Parker enrolled at the University of Arkansas and was a member of Phi Sigma Honorary Society. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a minor in geology in the spring of 1948. He and Loretta moved to Fort Smith, where he was employed by the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission prior to receiving his law degree from LaSalle University in Chicago. Doug Parker practiced criminal law in Fort Smith for 30 plus years and was known as “the best trial lawyer in Arkansas,” his obit states. He was licensed by the Arkansas Supreme Court and was a member of the Sebastian County Bar Association.

He was an active member of First United Methodist Church serving as a certified lay minister, trustee of the Foundation Board, youth counselor, member of the Administrative Board, SPR Committee member, a member of the choir, and a Sunday school teacher for 25 years.

In his spare time, he invented Rabble Rouser lures that sold across America. He held 12 patents on the fishing lures.