James Howard "The Big Bopper" Parker
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James Howard Parker "The Big Bopper"

Wall - James Howard Parker, AKA "The Big Bopper", passed away peacefully on December 26, 2020 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Born in Neptune, Howard resided in Spring Lake in his early years, moved to Spring Lake Heights to raise a family, before moving to Wall Township where he has resided for the last 26 years.

Early in his life, Howard loved to go fishing and played basketball for Asbury Park High School, graduating in 1950. Later on, he loved bowling, playing golf, going to the horse races, and watching sports, especially the NY Giants. But his biggest love was playing music, singing, and entertaining people. After high school, Howard worked at Dale's in Spring Lake as a baker for 26 years before buying his own luncheonette in Spring Lake, in which he aptly named Howard's Luncheonette, formerly Jerry's. There, he would cook and make sandwiches many times singing to his customers as he worked. At night, he was a musician and performed either by himself or with bands such as Jimmy Star and the Country Squires and The Bill Starr Trio. He also sang with the Courteous Drivers and would randomly sing with other bands. But mostly in his later years he performed by himself as The Big Bopper, playing weddings, private parties, or local bars and restaurants. He would also play in nursing homes in which the people would sing and smile, brightening up their day. The Big Bopper made everyone around him smile with his music and his jokes.

After retirement, Howard would continue as a solo musician in New Jersey and in Florida. From January to April, he went to Hallandale, Florida, where he would play music in bars and for private parties. While in Florida, he loved going to Gulf Stream Horse Track in which he was well known. In fact, a horse race was named in the Big Bopper's honor. The rest of the year, he loved going to Monmouth Park and play golf in the summer. He also played music at the Jersey Shore right up to his last performances at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como at the age of 87. The Big Bopper touched many lives in a positive way and will be missed by all those who knew him.

Howard was a member of West Belmar United Methodist Church. He was also a member of the Elks and the Musician's Union Local #399.

He is predeceased by his parents, Joseph A. and Jessie Parker; his brother, Joseph; his sister, Alida; and his niece, Nancy.

Surviving are his sons, Scott H. Parker and his wife, Catriona and Kevin J. Parker; his nephews, Timothy and James; his nieces, Mary and Barbara; his grandchildren, Andrea, Kyle and fiancé, Candace, Felicia and Alyssa and great-grandchildren, Noah, Zachary, Callum and Lilliana. He is also survived by his loving companion of 18 years, Diane Wagner.

**Due to Covid 19 restrictions, cremation was private and held under the direction of O'Brien Funeral Home, Wall.

In lieu of flowers please donate to the American Diabetes Association online at www.diabetes.org or by mail at 2,575 NJ-28 #2107, Raritan, NJ 08869.

To send condolences please visit www.obrienfuneralhome.com.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Asbury Park Press on Jan. 14, 2021.
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January 14, 2021
Goodbye Big Bopper, we’ll miss you. Keep singing in heaven!
Paula Steets-Milmoe
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