Dad passed away at home according to his wishes on February 4 at 2:32 a.m. When he left us he was wrapped in a shroud of love, and held in the loving arms of his wife Charita and children David, Shannon and Katherine.
He bravely faced his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, and found strength and resolve to continue to live his life, and love all around him with all he had. Even in his final moments.
Dad was born in Regina April 6/42, the third son of Oswald and Elizabeth Parker. He went to school in Regina, and spoke often of the happy simple times of his childhood there. He looked back fondly on the many trips and visits to his grandfather's farm in Val Jean, with his uncles and brothers.
Dad grew into a charismatic, charming, witty, fun loving, and intelligent young man.
He went to work as a salesman with Marshall Wells of Canada, it was during this period of time he met the love of his life, his wife Charita Sandvold and they were married July 3, 1965. Soon after he accepted a position with General Motors Acceptance Corporation. This change of jobs took them too, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Regina, and Winnipeg. It was there he found his dream job with Canada Mortgage and Housing Crown Corporation (CMHC).
While working with CMHC Don was transferred to, and worked in Winnipeg, Thompson, Saskatoon, Regina, Halifax, and Calgary.
Don ended his career as acting branch manager in Calgary, one of five branch managers in Canada. Dad was very well respected in the housing community, and was formally acknowledged with several awards and certificates of appreciation, from both the CMHC, and the Aboriginal Housing community. He was known throughout the housing community as man who could get things done, or cleaned up. Always identifying issues, and implementing plans of action. It didn't matter if it was a clerk, a co-worker, or Peter Pocklington, Dad always was open, honest, and direct. He made many close friends through work. His hard work, and dedication to any project was unparalleled.
Early retirement left him completely miserable. He was offered a contract with Sk Housing, this kept him satisfied for a further five years.
Dad both at work, and at home was a coach and mentor to many people in his life, he loved to listen and provide advice, guidance and support. It didn't seem to matter who Dad met, or in what situation but he felt compelled to help, and advise. It could be a family member, a child needing a hug or lecture, a friend, co-worker, player he coached, or a board member. All benefitted from his words of wisdom, and encouragement.
Dad loved his work, and it inspired him but the most important thing to Dad was his family. Dad was very proud of us, and always made sure we knew how much we were loved and supported. He supported his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in all that we undertook. He listened, loved, attended games, graduations, held our hands and kissed us. Dad made many sacrifices to provide us with many wonderful things, and opportunities. Dad loved family vacations, and wonderful Christmas's. Although a serious man he was also fun loving, quick to tease, and had a great sense of humor.
Although Dad was the boss at work, Mom definitely was the boss at home. Most would not know, or believe it, but she really wore the pants. Always organizing Dad, and the family. They were married for close to 49 years, and both worked tirelessly to provide everything, and more for us. Dad loved Mom, and she was the love of his life. There was nothing he wouldn't do, or give to her. She wanted for nothing. They enjoyed spending many days by the ocean in Halifax, and Oregon. The winters they spent in Arizona brought peace, happiness and many adventures.
Dad in retirement become the President of his Condo Association. It was here that he made many new friends that he listened too and inspired. Remaining as the Board President up to and until the day he passed was very important to both Dad and our family. It gave Dad a means to just live, feel normal, and not be sick with Cancer. We are very grateful for that.
Dad in his last few months described, and spoke of many of the things that he loved, or grew to love. Beautiful wheat fields, rolling waves in the ocean, the cactus's in the desert, the Masters, his truck, taking photos, seeing his grand children grow up, family gatherings, Christmas's of long ago, Boxing Day get togethers, singing and dancing, coaching, history and books, gardening and puttering in the yard. (Of course ensuring every blade of grass, or tomato was watered and perfect).
Dad leaves behind his wife Charita, his son David (Michelle) Parker, daughter Shannon (Scott) Moore, and daughter Katherine (Stephen) Richards. Grandchildren, Riley and Ashley Parker, and Logan and Avery Moore. Brothers, Bill (Marie) Parker, Gary (Cathy) Parker. Brother in law Brian Garnett, Sister in law Jody Garnett. Sister in law Myrna (Don) Desrochers. Grandpa Ray Braaten, and many cherished nieces and nephews.
Don and the family would like to thank all those who afforded Dad dignity, respect, love and care throughout his illness. Special thanks to, Dr. Haider, Dena, Dana, Dr. Johnson and all those at the Cancer Clinic. Also the Home Care team specifically nurses Angel and Helen, and those that delivered many care packages. The doctors and nurses in the RUH Emergency Room. Also providing care were, Dr. Berscheid, Dr. Haiminot, and Dr. Wall. Lots of love to all family and friends who have been supporting us.
A celebration of Don's life will be held on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at Hillcrest Funeral Home (East on 8th St., first right past Briargate Road, Saskatoon). Online condolences can be made at www.hillcrestmemorial.ca
Any donations can be made on behalf of Don Parker to the Pediatric Cancer Unit at RUH.
Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from Feb. 5 to Feb. 6, 2014