Ronald G. Parker, 74
Ronald ("Ron") Garey Floyd Parker passed away Friday, April 7, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Florida, after a hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He received incredible care from the Suncoast Hospice/Empath Health Team at Bayfront Hospital.
Ron was born on February 19, 1943, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to Floyd and Lorene Parker. He grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan where he spent his days playing in the great outdoors appreciating each of Michigan's seasons. He graduated in 1961 from Lakeshore High School where he lettered in football, baseball, basketball, and track and field. Ron was also his senior class president. During college, Ron was reunited with his first-grade crush, Diane Mack. Ron and Diane married on August 20, 1966, and then headed west for some California dreaming. He went on to graduate from Long Beach State College in Long Beach, California, with a degree in sociology.
In 1971, Ron and Diane moved back to Chicago where Ron received a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership. He spent four years as a teacher and assistant principal in the Oak Park school system. They eventually returned to Michigan in 1975 to be near family. Ron spent his career in education where he loved working with students and faculty. His career included positions as principal of Galesburg-Augusta Elementary School, Middle School, and High School, superintendent of Climax-Scotts School District, superintendent of Lakeview School District in Lakeview, Michigan, and superintendent of Bangor School District, where he finally retired. Not one to sit behind a desk, Ron's passion was interacting with his students – from reading to elementary children to counseling young adults – Ron loved his students, and his students loved him.
Ron was an avid athlete, super competitive, and enjoyed playing all sports. Ron's favorite times were spent in the gym both playing in leagues and as "Coach Parker", especially the years he spent coaching his daughters' teams. Ron loved Thursday night golf league with buddies, Friday night dinners at the Gull Lake Country Club Boat Bar, and watching and discussing all things University of Michigan – especially football! And he never missed his daily crossword puzzles.
Ron was happiest surrounded by family, especially his grandchildren, sitting on the dock on Gull Lake (Michigan) or balcony in St. Pete (Florida) where he and Diane watched the sunsets every night with an old-fashioned in hand.
Ron is survived by his wife of 50 years, Diane Parker, and his two daughters Kristy (Christopher) Boss and Kelly (Matthew) Williams, both of St. Petersburg, Florida. He is also survived by his grandchildren Kyley and Kaleb Williams, and Brooks Boss; his mother Lorene Parker and his sister Jan (Ger) Wahl both of Kansas City; his brother-in-law Dave (Jan) Mack, sisters-in-law Jan (Dave) Schmaltz and Stephanie Mack, all of St. Joseph, Michigan, and many nieces and nephews whom he cherished. Ron was preceded in death by his father, Floyd Parker, and brother-in-law, John Mack.
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, April 21, at 11:00am at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, located at 1600 54th Ave S., St. Petersburg, Florida, 33712. The family will receive visitors at 10:30 am.
Ron will be buried in a private ceremony in Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Memorial contributions may be made in Ron's memory to Suncoast Hospice or the National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.