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David Robert Parker, 80, of Boulder, Colo., died Jan. 16, after a yearlong battle with brain cancer, according to his family.
A longtime trucking executive and civic leader within American Trucking Associations and various business groups, Parker was a Marine officer and respected attorney who took on many tasks. He was remembered as a man who advised people as a friend and professional, friends said.
“Few people have shaped my life choices like Dave Parker,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “He was a friend, a counselor and a true warrior. Dave leaves this world better than he entered it.”
Parker had a strong work ethic, and peers liked working with him, friends said.
“His unique understanding of trucking, passion for helping others, tireless work ethic and sense of humor was a vital part of Great West’s philosophy of demonstrating our support for the trucking industry,” said Steve Ponder, executive vice president of Great West Casualty Co., where Parker once worked.
Parker was born Nov. 15, 1939, in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Gerald and Lucile (Gleich) Parker. He grew up in Superior, Neb., graduating from Superior High School in 1957.
After high school, Parker attended and graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He attended CU on an ROTC scholarship and actively served in the Marines from 1962 to 1967, earning the rank of captain.
Upon returning to civilian life, he attended the University of Nebraska College of Law, during which time he served as editor in chief of the Nebraska Law Review. After graduating in 1970, he became a partner in the Nelson and Harding Law Firm in Lincoln, and later established and worked in the Denver office.
David Parker was known for his love of family, friendliness, his sharing of experiences and his work ethic. (American Trucking Associations)
After his nine-year tenure with the firm, Parker returned to Lincoln, where he served as vice president and general counsel of Crete Carrier Corp. and affiliated companies from 1979 through 1985. He then returned to private practice as a partner in the Lincoln law firm of Rembolt, Ludtke, Parker and Berger until 1996.
While working in private practice, he became actively involved in the ownership and management of a trucking company, and served as chairman of JTI Inc. and affiliated companies from 1985 through 1997. He served as vice president of Active Transportation Co. and affiliated companies from 1995 to 1996.
With the change in ownership of JTI, Parker became executive vice president of administration for U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. in 1997, and continued in that role through the end of 2004. From 2005 through 2019, he served as senior legal counsel for Great West Casualty Co. and Great West Risk Management, both trucking insurance companies.
Parker’s friends in the transportation industry noted his friendliness, his sharing of experiences and his work ethic.
“My travels to Washington, D.C., as an alternate for rule-making and other meetings with David would be a whirlwind of learning,” said Walt Stieg, vice president of commercial sales at Stieg Insurance of Billings, Mont. “Every meeting, without exception, I came away with some new knowledge he would share.”
Stieg said Parker lived for work and family.
“He, being an ex-Marine, marched on every day [with] a work ethic like none other,” Stieg told Transport Topics. “Once, [he] told me his job was to get up early Monday and be on the road to somewhere to work for the transportation industry with hopes of being home Friday night.”
Parker was active in professional and civic organizations, his family said. Most recently, he chaired committees within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and he was an active member and held leadership positions within a number of trucking associations including American Trucking Associations, Truckload Carriers Association, Nebraska Trucking Association, Transportation Lawyers Association and the Canadian Transport Lawyers Association.
Parker was a proud member of the Founders of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and served as vice chairman of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation board of directors. Parker also was an active member of the Colorado and Nebraska bar associations and was an active member and leader within a number of Lincoln organizations, including the Food Bank of Lincoln Inc., the Lincoln Foundation Inc., Lincoln United Way, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Lincoln Alumni Association and Nebraska Wesleyan University. He served as a delegate of the Japan-American Conferences of Mayors and Chamber of Commerce Presidents.
Most important to Parker was his family. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nancy (Geddes) Parker, their daughter, Julie (Michael) Karavas, and son, Eric (Mary) Parker, and their grandchildren Adam and Alex Karavas, and Macie Parker.
Parker also is survived by his sister, Joanne (Robert) Howard, brother Dr. Richard Parker, brother-in-law Bill (Susan) Geddes, sister-in-law Ann (Chuck) Lennon, and many nieces and nephews. In addition, there were numerous friends Parker considered family.
His family is most appreciative of the care provided by the staff at Sunrise at Flatirons, Broomfield, Colo., and Tru Care Hospice. The family will celebrate Parker’s life privately. Memorials may be made to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
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