Candler - James Howard Parr, age 84, died quietly in his sleep Thursday, October 10, 2013 after a lingering illness. He was born in San Angelo, Texas. He grew up on a ranch in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the son of Walter Wayne Hughes, Flora Parr and adoptive father, Roy L. Parr, all of whom preceded him in death. He has been a resident of the Asheville area since 1972, when he moved here to accept the job of Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Howard is survived by his wife, Ina Egan Underwood Parr, his daughter Pam Jones and son-in-law, Randy Jones, of Troup Texas; daughters Susan Parr, and Lisa Parr, and step-son, Berkley Underwood, of Asheville, NC. Also surviving are brother, Walter R. Parr and sister-in-law, Carol Parr, of Carlsbad, NM, step-grandsons James Underwood and Matthew Underwood, and a step-great granddaughter, several nephews and a niece.
Howard served his country with honor in the U. S. Army during the Korean Conflict
as Sergeant First Class. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart
and other service awards.
He served with his dear friend Dan Blocker, the actor "Hoss" on the Bonanza TV series, and he loved to share colorful stories about their military and personal experiences. He was Best Man at Blocker's wedding. Blocker nicknamed him "Colonel"; a title that stuck with him for life with his Army buddies.
In 1956, after returning to Carlsbad and attending college, he began working at Carlsbad Caverns National Park as a Tour Leader in what became a 40-year career with the National Park Service. Later assignments took him to national parks at Death Valley, CA, Glacier, MT, Mammoth Cave, KY, where he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Governor Breathitt in recognition of his noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to his community. Additionally, he served at Great Smoky Mountains, NC and Blue Ridge Parkway, NC and VA.
He was a great storyteller who loved to captivate and amuse his audience with stories about his Park Service career. The "Chief" made friends wherever he went. He was known for his quick sense of humor, friendly outgoing personality, and his love for people. In 1994 he retired as Chief Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a position that he held for 22 years.
A Celebration of Life service will be conducted by Pastor Lisa Hartzog Hannah on Friday, October 18, 2013, 2:00 p.m. at Montmorenci United Methodist Church located off of Pisgah Highway. Burial of his cremated remains will be private at a later date. Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may be sent to Montmorenci United Methodist Church, 89 Old Candler Town Rd., Candler, NC 28715 or Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, 717 S. Marshall St., Ste. 105B, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.