Richard D. Parker

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Newport - Richard D. Parker, 97, died May 18, 2012, in Unity.

A native son of Newport, Dick was active in the community since his youth on South Main Street. He was born Feb. 3, 1915, the middle child of five of Fred C. and Hallie E. (Hinschillwood) Parker.

He, his brothers and other friends spent summers fishing and hunting along the Sugar River and in the surrounding hills. Growing up in pre-electric Newport, he kept the woodstove stoked in winter and the icebox filled in summer. Dick was an avid sportsman, lettering in baseball and football at Towle High School, graduating with the class of 1933.

Dick was bitten by the ski bug in the 1930s and became a founding member of the Newport Ski Club along with John McCrillis, Bill Tracey, Jim Flint and others. They hand-cut a Class I ski trail on the southeast flank of Mount Sunapee above Newbury Harbor, and they built a log cabin at the top as a respite for racers before their timed schuss down the mountain. The club competed in a fledging race circuit in New Hampshire and Vermont. They were self-taught skiers, also gaining skills from Dick Durrance, who learned the sport in Europe and went on to Olympic racing fame and to produce early ski movies to promote the sport in America. Dick Parker's mastery of skiing garnered him ski instruction jobs in the early 1930s at Gore Mountain in the New York Adirondacks. He was employed by Dorr Woolen Co. in the dye department and worked for the New Hampshire Forestry Department to help clear Mount Sunapee of blow-down following the 1938 hurricane.

Like many of his local peers, Dick joined the New Hampshire National Guard and was called to active service in the 197th Coast Artillery New Hampshire Regiment in September 1940. Following training at Camp Hulen in Texas, where he met his future wife, Robbie Mae (Moffatt) Parker, his unit was sent to defend San Francisco. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, they were sent to the South Pacific for four years, where they were stationed in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines.

Dick and Robbie Mae married in 1946 in Houston, Texas, and lived on Summer Street in Newport and in Sunapee Village while building their home on Johnson Farm Road in Newbury, where they lived for 56 years. In 1948, Dick was hired by the state of New Hampshire to assist in the development of Mount Sunapee Ski Area, laying out and clearing the first trails on North Peak. He became state park manager in 1950 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1980, at which time Mount Sunapee was nationally recognized for its family-friendly layout and innovative trail grooming techniques, many of which were copied around the Northeast. Dick was one of the first to recognize the economic importance of catering to skiers of all skill levels, the need for heavy grass-seeding of trails and detailed recording of snowfall in the pre-artificial snow era. For his efforts, he received numerous awards, including the McCrillis Award and the Citizenship Award from the Newport Chamber of Commerce.

In retirement, Dick immersed himself in reading books of all types and was a frequent user and supporter of Richards Free Library. His passion for local history led him to research the history of water-powered industry along the Sugar River. Dick was appointed clerk of works in a major remodeling of South Congregational Church, where he and Robbie have been lifelong members, the result of which was identification of important church artifacts and creation of space for youth activities.

Dick was predeceased by his parents and brothers Stanley, Vernon and Ronald. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Robbie Mae Parker, and his sister, Virginia E. Parker of Newport; and children James of McMinnville, Ore., Mary of Fort Collins, Colo., Robert of Dryden, N.Y.; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.


services: Friends may call at Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home, 42 Main St., Newport, on Thursday, May 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. A memorial service will be held at South Congregational Church in Newport on Friday, June 1, at 11 a.m. A private burial will follow. Memorial contributions can be made to the Youth Program at South Congregational Church, 20 Church St., Newport, 03773 or to Richards Free Library, 58 N. Main St., Newport 03773. To register a condolence, please go to Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home at

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Newton-Bartlett Funeral Home
42 Main Street
Newport, NH 03773
(603) 863-2113
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Published in Union Leader on Jan. 1, 1900