MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

August 4, 2013

Porter native to receive posthumous induction

The Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame Inc., has selected Willard G. Parker (posthumous) as a member of their 2013 class of inductees into the OAAE Hall of Fame, a media release states.

The induction ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 in the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.

Parker was born to Wheeler and Alberta Parker in 1914 on a farm a few miles east of Porter.

In 1929, at the age of 15, he began traveling to Langston to attend high school.

After graduating high school, he enrolled in Langston University and majored in agriculture. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1937.

While completing his student teaching practicum at Cushing, he was introduced to New Farmers of America, an all African-American national farm organization dedicated to educating and training in agricultural skills and trades.

In 1937, Parker was hired to teach vocational agriculture at Perry High School and assumed the responsibility of coordinating community service projects for youth.

He began to coach football and basketball, and the basketball team played for the state championship in 1942.

In 1944, he moved on to Boynton High School to teach vocational agriculture. The next year he was employed by the Manual Training High School in Muskogee to teach vocational agriculture and implement the Pilot Agriculture Program for Large Cities in public schools in Oklahoma.

Parker was instrumental in helping to develop and utilize a specialize curriculum that included 1,100 acres of farm plots for beef cattle and hog production, soybean and range land grass production, farm machinery operation and repair, soil and plant culture, and food and meat processing and canning. The Muskogee Chapter of New Farmers of America was soon established under his leadership. The chapter became a state, regional, and national award winning chapter in the areas of judging, debate, parliamentary procedures, and management and leadership skills.

His students were referred to as “Parker’s Boys.”

During his tenure, Parker organized Manual Training High School’s first student council and served as adviser for many years. He also served as state student council advisor for teachers.

In 1970, Muskogee High School hired Parker as a vo-ag teacher. He was the only African-American vo-ag teacher retained after integration.

Parker retired in 1977 after 40 years of exceptional commitment to education and service as an educator in Oklahoma.

Parker was a founding member of Retired Educators for Agricultural Programs (REAP) in Oklahoma in 1994.

Their purpose was to encourage more African-American students to pursue opportunities in agricultural education. He was also one of 30 agriculture advisers selected by Oklahoma State University to assist with the development of programs in vo-tech schools in Oklahoma.

Some of the awards received by Parker were: Citation of Appreciation from Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1985; Black Heritage Distinguished Award of Excellence from Oklahoma Secretary of Education in 1995; Future Farmers of America H.O. Sargent Award for outstanding work with youth in the field of vocational agriculture in 1998; REAP Certificate of Appreciation for founding, building, and supporting the REAP vision in 2000; and inducted into the New Farmers of America Advisors Hall of Fame at Langston University in 2011.

His affiliations included the Eastern Oklahoma Development District, Farmers Co-Op of Oklahoma, Future Farmers of America, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Negro Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma Education Association, Oklahoma Livestock Association, and Oklahoma Retired Education Association.

Parker continued to live in his home in Muskogee until his death on Oct. 8, 2012.

His wife, Opal, preceded him in death. His daughter, Beverly Young resides in San Diego, Calif., and daughter Gloria Parker lives in Muskogee.

His granddaughter, Kimberly Ragsdale lives in Porter.

Oklahoma African American Educators Hall of Fame President, Dr. Donnie Nero encourages the public to attend the event.

Information about tickets: (918) 698-6037 or www.oaaehof.org.

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