TUSCALOOSA | Joe Parsons, age 81, of Tuscaloosa, died December 17, 2015, at home. Services will be 2 p.m. Monday, December 21, 2015, at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel. Burial will follow in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park with Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home directing. Visitation will be from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, December 20, 2015, at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home. The body will lie in state one hour prior to services.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Winfield and Adalee Boone Parsons; sisters, Sue Mann, Mary Ruth England and Norma Jane Parsons; and brother, John Parsons.
Survivors include his wife, Marie Parsons; daughters, Christi Parsons (Cody Moser), Melanie Gao, Caroline Parsons and Amanda Parsons-Nelson (Jeffrey Parsons-Nelson); grandchildren, Paul Parsons-Moser, Audrey Gao, Grant Gao, Amanda Parsons-Moser and Bliss Parsons-Nelson.
Joe Parsons loved a good story. He is best known for sitting on his front porch in a rocking chair and spinning yarns for anyone who would stop and listen for a while. He entertained guests from around the world and across the street with his fiddle and exuberant singing. When he retired, he took up woodworking and started spending more time on the front porch talking about politics, philosophy and Alabama football.
Many of his stories were about growing up in the country. He was born in Hueytown, Ala., during the Depression. His father died when Joe was a teenager. And though Joe knew hard times, he always told heroic stories of love and survival, and of a mother who lifted her family from poverty by getting her teaching certificate from the University of Alabama.
He played baseball for Livingston State College and later for the Central Foundry while attending the University of Alabama, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in 1956. He received his Master's Degree from the University of Florida in Rehabilitation Counseling in 1965. He worked for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services for 30 years.
While he and his wife were raising their family they renovated an early 1900s farmhouse on Hargrove Road that later housed a restaurant called "The Plantation". Mr. Parsons bought and sold fiddles, mainly for the pleasure of talking with people about their music and listening to them play.
In one of his most respected projects for the state, he recruited large numbers of developmentally disabled adults from around Alabama to participate in job training programs, enabling them to make valuable contributions to the workforce.
He was an active member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church for five decades, and raised four girls, all of whom graduated from the University of Alabama.
He served on the West Alabama Rehabilitation Board of Directors.
In his later years he enjoyed watching re-runs of great Alabama football games and iCarly with his grandchildren. They will join the congregation in singing his favorite gospel song, "Walking in Jerusalem," at his funeral.
He died at home from injuries of a fall down the stairs on Thursday.
Pallbearers are his sons-in-law, Jeffrey Parsons-Nelson and Cody Moser, his grandsons, Paul Parsons-Moser and Grant Gao, his granddaughters, Audrey Gao and Mandy Parsons-Moser, his front-porch buddy Gary Standifer, and family friend Milton Denny.
Honorary pallbearers will be Arnold Mills, Archie McDaniel, Bobby Maddox, Skeet Boone, Bill Clark, Ed Allen, Kevin Lind, Tommy McGraw, the BATS (Bible and Theology Scholars), Alex Wright, Stella Rainey, Zanetta Tumlin, his Hillsdale neighbors, Lou Fisher, Roy, the England sisters and Jane Crenshaw, the congregations of University Lutheran Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Sulphur Springs Baptist Church and Mud Creek Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1401 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 35404.
Published in Tuscaloosa News from Dec. 19 to Dec. 20, 2015.