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William E. Parker

William E. Parker

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July 29, 2014
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October 12, 2009
Tim and Nevil, I am so very sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He has changed my life and showed me how to muster the courage to be me. I pass on his wisdom to my students every day; I hear his voice and his laugh in all that I do. Thanks for sharing him.
October 04, 2009
Writing this has been one of the most difficult things I have had to do, certainly in recent times. I concur with the many people who described Billy as "larger than life." This is a phrase I had immediately thought of to try, in some way, to capture this man who had the capacity to envelop one in his enthusiasm for life, for to be with Billy was like being at a nonstop celebration.

I first met Billy and Tim through my partner, Richard, who had served in the Intelligence Corps with Billy when they were in the army in Texas. Richard always said that it was the greatest oxymoron since Billy and Richard had already read the confidential reports that passed before them in the New York Times the week before. Richard spoke often of Bill and Tim and of his days off when he would pass the time sitting with Tim, who had just given birth to Nevil, and it was always with an affection that time could not diminish.

When I visited Tim and Bill for the first time in their home in Connecticut, I was apprehensive about joining a friendship that had transcended so much time. It took about three seconds to be welcomed into the circle of warmth and love that Tim and Billy exuded. That first meeting we were up until three in the morning before we realized how the time had flown. Richard and Tim spent much of it discussing literature while Billy showed me his work and his home studio, and we discussed his incredible art and so many aspects of art history. The brilliance that was Bill Parker shown brightly that night, as it did on every other occasion when we were together.

Billy was so knowledgeable, so talented and innovative, so capable of creating artistically and in every other way. Whether with a camera, a paint brush, or a tool, whatever he set his mind to do, he did with perfection. There are so many wonderful memories that I have of this incredible human being, that I cannot share them all.

One memory that I do have is of being with the Parkers around Christmas time and seeing Billy create fantastic three-dimensional paper Santa Clauses that could stand on a table and which he shared with those for whom he was a mentor.

His perfection extended to every aspect of his life. Never would you see Billy not impeccably turned out, thanks to the hours of Tim's ironing so that every crease was sharp and perfect and every shirt like new. Billy relied heavily on Tim and the love that they shared for each other and for Nevil is something remarkable.

I will always remember when Richard died and I spoke with Tim and then Billy and the comfort they provided me. Of all those with whom I spoke after Richard's death, they were the only ones driven to tears --- so great was the friendship and love that existed among them. I was lucky enough to share in that love, and although time and distance may interfere, it will never diminish, nor will my affection for them. I believe that I am indeed blessed to have known Billy and to have shared in our conversations and experiences.

One always learned from Billy who was a master of creativity, but also a purveyor of infinite knowledge and wisdom, a champion of the English language spoken correctly, a mentor, a teacher, and a guide who allowed you to grow beyond yourself.

I am saddened beyond words that this dear friend and I will no longer share such times. I can only imagine how difficult it is for Tim and Nevil to lose a husband and father. However, I hope that they, as I, will be sustained by the incredible memories of so gifted and loving a man.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to Tim and Nevil on their loss.
September 24, 2009
I was very saddened to hear of Bill's passing and my condolences go out to his family. "Wild Bill" Parker had a tremendous influence on my work, more than can be put down in a few sentences. He was the best teacher I ever had, a mentor is how I thought of him - In my own teaching I tried to emulate the compassion, care and interest he showed me. He was a gifted man, I will never forget him and his generousity.
Drex Brooks
September 22, 2009
I am very sorry to learn that Billy Parker is no longer with us. In the 70s and 80s especially we spent a lot of time together. I found him a hilarious and brilliant man and artist. I acted in school plays with him and directed him (he once played the devil for me driving a busload of sinners to hell, as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was one of the strangest pieces of casting ever, given his accent). He might very well have been the most intellectually stimulating man I have ever known. God bless you, Billy.

Tom Dulack
September 22, 2009
I am very sorry to learn that Billy Parker is no longer with us. In the 70s and 80s especially we spent a lot of time together. I found him a hilarious and brilliant man and artist. I acted in school plays with him and directed him (he once played the devil for me driving a busload of sinners to hell, as well as Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was one of the strangest pieces of casting ever, given his accent). He might very well have been the most intellectually stimulating man I have ever known. God bless you, Billy.

Tom Dulack
September 22, 2009
Dear Bill,

Thank you so much for the enthusiasm and knowledge you shared with me about my art work over the years. You were very instrumental in the development of my career as an artist.
I will miss our conversations !

Best,
George Blakely
September 11, 2009
Bill and I were serving as trustees of the Society for Photographic Education and attending its conference in 1980 (I think) when it strikes him that the organization should have a proper set of by-laws. He volunteered to produce a draft. The following day, at a plenary meeting, the board sat in grateful and stunned acceptance of Bill’s scrupulously polished, masterfully crafted governing document.

I remember thinking that offering to take on such irksome drudgery was an act of surpassing generosity. But since Bill must have been aware of his own exceptional wealth of intellectual capacity (not to mention typing skill) I wonder if these sorts of acts could also be remembered as a kind of philanthropy.
September 10, 2009
It is with tremendous sadness that I learned of Bill’s death. While I’m happy to think that his passing may have shortened a period in which he (and your family) may have suffered in many ways as his illness progressed, it is still a tremendous loss for all of us.

I first met Bill in 1978 when I was a first-year graduate student at RISD. I didn’t really know anything about him, and wandered one evening into a critique he was leading for the second-year grad students in Photography. They were looking at some Polaroids done by one of the students; they were difficult images for most to appreciate, since they were generated by the student’s interest in Zen. Apparently not many of the others were aware of the precepts of Zen, since they were giving the student something of a hard time. I think that Bill was more or less on the side of the group, but that didn’t stop me from offering (unasked) my own thoughts about why the images were appropriate and valuable, given the viewpoint of the author.

There was a hush as I started talking, and later I realized it was because few people ever felt comfortable openly disagreeing with Bill’s viewpoint. After I left, I later heard that Bill asked someone in the group, “Who was that??” and this was the beginning of a wonderful friendship, as they say.

When I first attended the Photo-iconography course he taught at RISD, I remember that he would typically begin a lecture by telling us what he was going to cover. But an hour or so later, I would frequently wonder if he had actually gotten from point a to point b and c, or if we were at that time into the realm of points x,y and z. One time he told a story that involved his waking up from a dream to find his cats staring at him in bed making a noise that he proceeded to imitate; I knew then that the man was either brilliant, crazy, or more likely a bit of each. Either way, he would teach his heart out (having already worked all day at UConn), and would then go out afterwards to eat with a bunch of us and continue to talk. Endless energy, endless enthusiasm, endless fascination with the world around him – endlessly inspiring qualities.

I can’t think of anyone from whom I have learned more, nor anyone who has challenged my thinking and stimulated more self-reflection and growth as an artist. After RISD I was fortunate enough to become Bill’s colleague at the University of Connecticut, where we would often have lunch, smoke a Salem or two, and talk about art. I will always treasure not only his profound knowledge, but his generous willingness to share it and his ability to convey his thoughts with such joy, such animation, such splendid use of language and imagery.

As well, I will also cherish his creativity, which was equally stimulating.

My thoughts and sympathies and condolences are with you and your family.
September 07, 2009
Aunt Tim & Nevil,
You are in our thoughts and prayers. I am so happy I got to speak with Uncle Billy not long ago and share with him the love my own children have for the arts. I'll always remember his wit, humor, and smile. We are thinking of you.
Love,
Monica Parker Esposito & Family
September 07, 2009
I don't exactly remember when I first met Bill. I think it was in the very early 70's when Bill gave a talk at GEH. I've known Bill and Tim since then. Over the years I attended his lectures at UConn and at other schools, worked on exhibits with him in the Hartford area and saw him at many SPE conferences, as well as at Visual Studies Workshop seminars. The last time I saw Bill and Tim was at a photo show in Hartford shortly before they moved to Florida. Siegfried Halus and Walter Rabetz were there as well. We all had a great time. Somewhere I have snap shots from that occasion.
I did get the chance to talk to Bill, Tim and Nevil occasionally after the move, but never got the chance to visit them. I, too, remember his extraordinary intellect, his wit, and his charm. I also remember those bear hugs.
A couple of fond memories: In 1977 I asked Alex Sweetman to give a lecture at The Hotchkiss School. We then went to the University of Hartford where Alex gave lecture on the relationships between Walker Evans, Robert Frank and Nathan Lyons. Of course we had invited Bill. What a wonderful conversation we had over a few beers later that evening. Another fond memory was in 1982 when I attended Bill's workshop at VSW. I remember that Bill applied Jungian theory to photographic seeing. I have enclosed a photo taken of Bill in front of a mandala he had drawn on the blackboard during that workshop. One highlight was an hour long lecture on "mooning" - apparently it goes back a couple thousand years. Don't ask me how we got on that subject. It was just another example of Bill's phenomenal storehouse of knowledge.
Tim and Nevil I'll see you in Connecticut this fall.
Be well.

Love from Bob and Sandy Haiko

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