Colonel (Ret.) Kenneth E. Parker, Sr., 87, of Charleston died Friday, January 16, 2015 at home.He was the eldest son of the late Fred L. and Ada Cavender Parker of Charleston.
He is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Norma Caldwell Parker of Charleston, his daughter, Pamela Elaine Parker of Lexington, KY., his son and his daughter-in-law, Kenneth E. Parker Jr. and Anna Fox Parker of Kernersville N.C. and his two grandchildren who were so special to him, Kenneth E Parker III (Holly) of Greensboro, N.C. and Lea Fox Parker of Kernersville N.C. and one great-granddaughter, Noelle E. Parker. Also surviving is his sister Verlie Siska of Nashville, Tenn. and his brother and sister-in-law, Jarrell C. and Myrna Parker of Charleston. Also surviving are his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Pete and Jan Sigler of Summersville, WV, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Joe and Stephanie Caldwell of Summersville and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Rickie and Mary Ann Holt of Okeechobee, FL.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corp on October 30, 1944 before graduating from Stonewall Jackson High School in January, 1945. He was assigned to the Army Specialized Training program at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY. After being discharged from WWII in December 1946, he enlisted in the WV Army National Guard as a private in the Headquarters Company of the 150th Infantry Regimental Combat Team in May, 1947. He progressed through the ranks to Master Sgt-Chief of the Communications Platoon. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. Infantry in June 1950. He was awarded the Expert Infantry Badge in July 1950 at Ft. Knox, KY. A job transfer in 1950 caused Ken to transfer to the 119th Pontoon Bridge Engineers Company in Weston, WV as an Engineer Officer-Pontoon Bridges. In 1960, a job transfer to Martinsburg, WV required him to change branches of service to the Air Force-Air National Guard, going into the 167th Tactical Fighter Squadron as the Squadron Armament Officer on the F-86 Sabre Jet Aircraft. In 1966, again because of a job transfer, he joined the 130th Tactical Airlift Wing-Air Guard in Charleston, WV as Lt. Colonel-Combat Support Squadron. He retired from the Air Guard on September 13, 1987 and was promoted to Colonel-State Retired List with a total military service record of 42 years, 4 months, and 10 days of which he was very proud.
He was a graduate of the Air War College of the Air University of Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama in November of 1972. His military decorations included the Expert Infantry Badge, Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Theatre Medal, World War II Victory Medal, WV National Guard Service Medal for 40 years service and the Air Force Reserve Medal. His shooting medals included Expert Carbine, Sharpshooter Rifle, and Marksman Pistol.
Ken started to work for C & P Telephone Company (now Frontier) in 1947 as a Field Engineer in Charleston, WV. He worked in Clarksburg, Martinsburg, and Huntington before returning to Charleston in 1961. He spent the last six years as the Pioneer Administrator of Chapter 42, Telephone Pioneers of America. When he retired in March, 1988, he had over 41 years of service with the telephone company.
Ken loved airplanes and at the age of 15 started taking flying lessons at the Glenn Clark Kanawha Seaplane Base at the city levee. His first aviation license was on seaplanes as Kanawha Airport, now Yeager, had not yet been built. In his 40 years in aviation, he acquired ratings in Seaplanes-single and multi-engine, single and multi-engine land planes, Glider, and was a Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor. Ken had logged over 12,000 hours of flying time when he retired from flying. He instructed at Kanawha Airport for 15 years and was proud to say that he had “never lost a former student”. He was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for over 70 years, was a member of the National Rifle Association and the Beckley Gun Club.
Ken was a Master Mason of Kanawha Lodge No 20, AF&AM, Tyrian Chapter No 13, Royal Arch Masons, and Kanawha Commandary No 4, Knights Templar for over 50 years. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Beni Kedem Shriners where he was a Charter member of the Beni Kedem Highlanders Color Guard and a Past Colonel-in-Chief of the Highlanders. He also belonged to Court 111 of the Royal Order of Jesters, Charleston WV. He was a member of Chapter 88, Order of Eastern Star and a life member of BPOE Elks Lodge #202 in Charleston.
A visitation will be held between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, January 19, 2015 at Snodgrass Funeral Home in South Charleston with a service to Honor the Life of Kenneth E. Parker following at 1 p.m. at the funeral home with Bob Midkiff and Pete Thompson officiating. Entombment will follow at Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Kenneth’s name to HospiceCare1606 Kanawha Blvd., West, Charleston, WV 25387-2536.
Memories and condolences may be share by visiting www.snodgrassfuneral.com and selecting Kenneth’s obituary icon.
Snodgrass Funeral Home of South Charleston is handling the arrangements.