Robert "Bruce" Parker, Jr. passed away peacefully at home in New Braunfels, TX on Friday, December 18, 2020.
Born on September 11, 1937 in San Antonio, TX, his childhood could be summed up in one word – mischievous! He attended Jefferson High School, and then went on to UT Austin on a track scholarship. It was there he met the love of his life, Marilyn Goebel. They met quite accidentally on a phone call meant for someone else. But after chatting for a while, they decided to meet on a date, and the rest is history… They married in February 1959 and had their first child, Melissa, while still at UT. He held the record for longest javelin throw at UT for a long time, and was inducted into the UT Hall of Honor in 2003. Bruce was chosen as an alternate for the 1960 Rome Olympic team for the javelin event, but his sights were set on a higher calling – to be a husband, father and physician.
After graduating from UT Austin, he attended medical school in Galveston, TX and had his 2nd and 3rd children, Shelly and Bruce III. When he wasn't in class or studying, he worked extra jobs as a phlebotomist, skindiving/spearfishing to sell sheepshead fish, and lifeguarding to support his ever-growing family. Marilyn tells of the time he brought home a cadaver arm to study for a lab test, and she discovered it in her laundry room.
His next stop after completing medical school and a residency in San Antonio was Junction, TX where he had spent many childhood years hunting with his father. He became the quintessential country doctor, making house calls and taking care of patients 24/7. Everyone in Junction knew him for his adventurous spirit. He was extremely active, enjoying things like flying airplanes, hang-gliding, water-skiing, hunting, fishing, and especially anything that involved a little danger! Landing his airplane on a highway at night because he had run out of gas and hang-gliding off of Lover's Leap were just a hint of his many escapades. Miraculously he was never seriously hurt in these capers. He didn't like complaining, and his favorite saying was, "I've had it worse on my eyeball." He always had a hobby, whether it was cultivating a vegetable garden, building a zipline in the backyard, fabricating a wooden "disk" (which turned out to be a torture device that tore the skin off your knees from the sandpaper he applied and probably could have knocked us unconscious when he slung us outside the wake at 30mph) to pull his children behind the ski boat on the Llano River, constructing his first prototype hang-glider from garbage bags and duct tape (road tested by pulling his son down the airport runway with a rope behind the car), welding beautiful 3D artistic creations… He always enjoyed staying creative, active and busy.
His love for animals was apparent from a young age. Family members tell of his love for snakes, and he was always bringing home all sorts of animals. This continued throughout his adult life. There were the usual dogs and cats, but also goats, a javelina, a crow, possums, raccoons, a Shetland pony, a horse, a bobcat. And (of course) snakes! Oh, the stories Marilyn can tell of him chasing her down the street with one of his snakes!
The Junction days were hard on a new young doctor with a wife and 3 small children. The lessons learned provided him with a lifetime of stories and wounds that would serve to make him a more compassionate person. Because of his adventurous spirit, he was never really afraid of trying something new. He practiced medicine in Hilo, Hawaii for about 6 months in 1975 but decided he preferred the mainland.
Deer Park, TX became our next home from 1975-1983. He enjoyed this time, and this is also when his 4th child, Miranda, was born. It seems this season of life served to ground him, and he was more settled. However, both Bruce and Marilyn were raised in San Antonio and had many family members still there. So, with their older 3 children in college and out of the house, they decided in 1983 to return there to raise their youngest. Eventually they moved to Horseshoe Bay where he practiced a few days a week. He retired around 2004 due to health issues and moved to the Houston area to be closer to his children, and most recently (in 2019) moved to New Braunfels.
Even though his body and his memory wouldn't allow him to do the adventurous things he loved anymore, he never complained or lost his sense of humor. He showed us a sense of grace and patience and humility we will never forget. He was secure in his faith and knew where he was going after this life. The selfish part of us is left wishing he was still here, telling us one of his many jokes (he was quite a storyteller and jokester!). But we know he is home now with our Heavenly Father surrounded by a love greater than we can ever imagine. So, it's not "Goodbye," it's "We'll see you later." Hook 'em, and rest in peace, we love you!
Bruce is survived by his loving wife Marilyn Goebel Parker, 4 children - Melissa Parker, Shelly (Craig) Barclay, Bruce (Amy) Parker, and Miranda (Matt) Maddox, 8 grandchildren - Ryan Parker, Emily Parker, Zach Barclay, Grant Barclay, Lauren Parker, Cade Parker, Hunter Maddox and Carlee Maddox, and 1 great-grandchild, Ava Barclay. He has numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, patients, and friends whom he loved dearly, and we are so blessed to have their love and support.
We would like to thank his caregivers, especially Karen and Wendy, for the love and care they extended to him and Marilyn during the past few months. Thank you for keeping him happy with peppermints and animal cookies, and late night/early morning conversations and back massages. A special thank you to Dr. Michael Benca and Dr. David Rodriguez for your wisdom, patience and expertise. We also want to thank Elara Caring Hospice for their compassionate and kind care. Everyone from Elara was exceptional. Delanie, Peggy and Andrea made his journey peaceful and pain-free, and were there anytime we needed them.
Memorial donations in Bruce's name can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or your favorite charity.