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May 14, 2020 11:15 AM, EDT

Eric Parker, ATA Vice President of Membership Sales, Dies at 50

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Eric Scott Parker, who grew up in a trucking family and spent his professional career in the industry, died suddenly on May 11. He was 50.

Parker, of Boulder, Colo., most recently served as vice president of membership sales for American Trucking Associations. A family member attributed the cause of death to a “cardiac event.”

Parker, the son of Nancy and the late David Parker — who also was a trucking executive — spent the past 31 years of his working life in the industry.

“Eric’s suddenly passing is deeply felt by the ATA team, our members and countless industry leaders,” ATA President Chris Spear said. “He committed his entire professional career to trucking, spending the last four years building ATA’s sales force and motor carrier membership. His performance was superior and delivered incredible value to our association. He will be sorely missed.” In a letter to ATA employees and members, Spear said Parker’s “passion, kindness and knowledge of trucking left a lasting impression on everyone he met. Eric’s humor, love of the outdoors and love for his family was contagious.”

Parker

Parker

Parker’s sister Julie Karavas said her brother, an avid runner, not only ran marathons, but competed in ultramarathon events.

“He was a perfect example of you live each day to the fullest,” Karavas said. “He was so full of life. But he didn’t want the spotlight. He always gave it to somebody else.”

During college, Parker started working at JTI Inc. in Lincoln, Neb., as a driver manager and accountant. He stayed at JTI as it was acquired by U.S. Xpress Enterprises, and worked his way up to terminal manager in 2001.

Eventually, Parker’s career led him to Bullocks Express in Denver, then to Jim Palmer and back to U.S. Xpress until 2015. He worked at C.H. Robinson as a senior sales executive prior to joining ATA.

“Eric truly enjoyed helping customers grow and getting their products delivered on time,” Spear said. “He loved learning new things and gaining extensive knowledge of the industry.”

Parker joined ATA in November 2016 as a regional sales representative, and in early 2019 was promoted to lead the membership sales team. “He helped grow and shape ATA’s membership portfolio, and was a tremendous resource to our members,” Spear said.

“Eric was probably the best boss I’ve ever worked for,” said Caleb Chatfield, a Minneapolis-based regional vice president of membership for ATA. “ I’ve been in remote sales for a long time. I’ve had bosses that I hear from maybe once a month. Whenever I needed anything, he was always there.”

Chatfield and Parker met through their love of running about five years ago when they worked at C.H. Robinson. In 2016, they both ran the Boston Marathon; Parker finished with a 3:19, while Chatfield ran a 2:50.

“He knew everybody in the industry,” Chatfield said. “That was big for me. He made a point to introduce me to ATA folks.”

Tonn Ostergard, CEO of Crete Carrier Corp., said he was impressed with Parker whenever the two interacted.

He was a fine person, a fine family man and very personable,” Ostergard said. “It’s just a tragic loss. He was in great health. In all the interactions I had with him, he was very professional.”

“Eric always had time for people,” said his sister, Julie. “His career was in trucking. He loved what he was doing, especially these last few years. He loved to travel. I’ve heard from so many of his friends that he’s just one of the most loyal, selfless friends. He had a ton of friends.”

Referring to her father, David Parker, who died in January, she said: “As I told my mom, she’s now got her two guys looking out after her.”

Parker is survived by his wife, Mary, his mother, Nancy, sister Julie, daughter Macie and stepdaughters Erika and Aslinn.

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