Mardell Morris Parker, for whom Parker Junior High in Flossmoor is named, died Sunday, March 17, in Tierra Verde, Florida. He was 93.
Mr. Parker was a native of Rock Island, Illinois. He served during World War II as a secret message courier with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. After the war, he enrolled at Augustana College and joined the Illinois Naval Militia. He was called up for duty during the Korean Conflict, and served on a Navy vessel patrolling the Persian Gulf.
He graduated from Augustana and went on to earn a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Illinois.
Mr. Parker married Shirley Briere in 1952. Together they raised their five daughters — Susan, Shana, Stacy, Sally and Sarah — in Homewood.
His first teaching job was in a two-room schoolhouse in rural Rock Island County. He later taught for several years in Mahomet, Illinois, before moving to the H-F area.
Mr. Parker started his 30-year career with Flossmoor District 161, serving first as the principal of Leavitt Avenue School and later Flossmoor Junior High before being named District 161 superintendent. Upon his retirement in 1985, the District 161 school board honored Parker by renaming the junior high the Mardell Parker Junior High School.
He also received recognition from the Illinois General Assembly for his service to the students and teachers of Illinois.
The Parkers relocated to South Haven, Michigan, after his retirement. Shirley continued her career as an educator for nearly a decade in Michigan. The couple relocated to Tierra Verde in 1999.
“My dad was guided throughout his life by his strong belief in doing the ‘right thing,’ by his tremendous sense of duty to his family, his community and to the children of his school district,” his daughter Sally Parker-Johnson said.
Mr. Parker is survived by his five daughters, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2017.
A private funeral service will be held in Florida.