Union Mourns David Parker

Categories: Union News

David Lecour Parker lived a life filled with faith, music, and love. Along with his twin brother, he was born on December 20, 1923. David and Allan lived with their older sister, Eleanor, and their parents, Eleanor and James, in Brooklyn and then moved to Ridgewood, N.J., when he was 7. Music was always central to their family life, and David truly had a gift for playing the piano. He often recalled the night when he was 16 and his father got up from the piano bench and turned it over to David for their family Sunday night hymn sing.

David went to Middlebury College for his freshman year, before transferring to Hamilton to attend his father’s alma mater where his brother was also studying. David and Allan were in the class of 1945 but graduated in 1947 because of World War II. David served in the army, and his battalion was destined for the Battle of the Bulge. The night before the troops were set to ship out to Europe, nine men—out of thousands—had their names called. David was one of these nine sent to Guam instead of France, to serve with the army signal corps. In addition to being proud of his military service, he was also proud of his ability to fit into his army uniform throughout his lifetime.

After college, David went on the G.I. bill to Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Here he studied with some of the greatest theological minds of the twentieth century, including James Muilenburg, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Paul Tillich. Along with world-renowned theologians, David traveled to Amsterdam and attended the historic first meeting of the World Council of Churches as the secretary to Union’s president, Henry Van Dusen. Upon seminary graduation, David was ordained in the Methodist Church and began serving churches as a pastor. For about a decade, he sponsored immigrant families from Germany in his home. Some people stayed with him for a few months, but one family stayed for three years, during which time David learned to speak German like a native, which he did as often as he could

In 1959, David met Merolyn Faith Graham, and they were married in 1960. They had three daughters—Julie, Katie, and Valerie—and together they created a loving, hospitable home for family and friends. He was a caring father who enjoyed teaching his daughters army calisthenics, making them animal-shaped pancakes, and writing songs for them on their birthdays. He was also happy and proud that all three daughters, and later a grandson, Eli, would go on to attend Hamilton College.

David was a lifetime pastor who served eleven congregations in northern New Jersey, Staten Island, and Long Island. He blessed every church he served with his musical abilities as he played the piano and organ and knew over 300 hymns by heart. He also was deeply committed to clear and meaningful liturgy.

David was an early supporter of civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. Additionally he was a community leader in interfaith relations. Usually an easy-going, affable person, he was deeply upset by acts of injustice, and he joined in protests and reached out to individuals to help.

After serving United Methodist churches faithfully for 54 years, he retired to Lord’s Valley, Pa., where he continued his active church involvement as organist of the Church at Hemlock Farms. After the death of his wife, Merolyn, in 2007, David went to live with his daughter Julie and her family in Larchmont, N.Y., before finally settling at Wesley Village in Shelton, Conn.

David died peacefully of natural causes in the early hours of April 6. He leaves behind a strong legacy of love and memories of wonderful music, along with thousands of personalized poetic, acrostic, and musical tributes that he wrote for colleagues, friends, and family. People who knew David recall his vibrant energy, vigorous piano playing, deep faith, and endearing character traits. In addition to extended family, there are also dear friends who are considered part of the family. He is survived by his three daughters: Julie Faith Parker (Bill Crawford), Kate Parker-Burgard (Don), and Valerie Parker; and six grandchildren: Graham, Mari, Jacob, Eli, Maxwell, and Josephine.

There will be an interment with the family on Saturday morning.

The funeral service will be held at the Larchmont Avenue Church, 60 Forest Park Ave, Larchmont, N.Y., at 3 pm on Saturday, April 9.