Mr. David McMath Parker, 76, who one year was honored by being named the Eastern Shore’s Outstanding Citizen, passed away Thursday morning, May 14, 2020. He was a devoted family man who was recognized as a community and business leader in the two counties of his home area, as well as throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
David Parker and his loving wife of 54 years, Mary Esther Taylor Parker, resided in Onley. He also is survived by their daughter, Kristin P. Linton, son-in-law, N. Kevin Linton, and grandson, Kyle David Linton. A very important member of the family is Kokomo, an English Labrador Retriever.
Other survivors include his brother, George T. Parker, and his wife, Vicki, and their children, Sophie E. Parker and Charles (Chad) Parker and his wife, Amy.
David Parker was the son of Anne Elizabeth McMath Parker Ewell and David Augustus Parker and the stepson of Claude R. Ewell.
Throughout a long business career, David Parker contributed to the community and to the state in a meaningful way. After serving as editor of the Eastern Shore News, he became vice president of Atlantic Publications, which published papers in a five-state area. During this time, he became active in the Virginia Press Association, serving as state chair of the Old Dominion Advertising Conference. He was elected to the association’s board and then served as president of the association, with its membership including the daily and weekly publications in the state.
David Parker’s interest in business and a growing economy was exemplified by his service for 12 years as a member of the board of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and he became president of that organization. He took a leadership role in establishing the Harvest Festival, which was a popular event that attracted thousands of participants. In recognition of his vision and leadership ability, he was named executive vice president of the chamber and executive director of Virginia’s Eastern Shore Tourism Commission. He was elected to the board of directors of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman of its tourism committee. With such a strong background in business and tourism, it is not surprising that he purchased and operated the Comfort Inn in Onley. In the meantime, recognizing his great organizational ability, he was asked to serve as the first executive director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Community Foundation.
Congeniality and kindness were a part of David Parker’s style of leadership. His detailed planning and execution of those plans resulted in successful operations in every project he undertook and every organization he led. Early in his adult life he served as president of the Eastern Shore Jaycees and chair of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited. Later he served on the board of directors of the Barrier Islands Center, the board of directors of the United Way of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and as president of both the Eastern Shore Yacht and Country Club and the Onancock Rotary Club.
Known for giving tirelessly and unselfishly of his time, he was elected to the board of directors of the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation at the time it was established and he soon was elected its president. In the area of education, he also served as a member of the board of Broadwater Academy.
Healthcare became another interest with his serving as chair of the successful campaign to raise funds for the cancer center in Nassawadox. He became a member of the board of directors of Shore Lifecare in Parksley and served as chair of its board. At the time of his passing, he was a member of the board of directors of Shore Health Services, which operates Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.
Among a life filled with contributions, David Parker served on the town council and then as mayor of the Town of Onley.
Time was made for recreation with his wife, having season tickets for the University of Virginia football games. The institution’s basketball games were nearly always watched on television and when the Masters was being played, nothing would interrupt his enjoyment of those tournaments. Fishing and golfing were favorites.
Contributions to the Eastern Shore and enhancement of life on the Eastern Shore has been documented but there also have been substantial contributions to religion with faith being an important part of his life. As a member of the Onley United Methodist Church, he served on its board of trustees and as chairperson of both the finance committee and the Methodist Men’s Club. For two years, he was chair of the church’s administrative council. He also served as chair of the finance committee of the Eastern Shore District of the United Methodist Church. In addition, he was president of the Eastern Shore Christian Businessmen’s Association.
David Parker lived a life of faith and amazing community contributions. Out of health considerations, a private funeral service was held at Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Onancock, conducted by the Rev. Jim Canody. A celebration of life will be held at a later date and when circumstances permit.
Memorial contributions may be made to Riverside Shore Cancer Center at P.O. Box 430, Onancock, VA 23417; Broadwater Academy at P.O. Box 546, Exmore, VA 23350; or the Onley United Methodist Church at P.O. Box 98, Onley, VA 23418.
Memory tributes may be shared with the family at www.williamsfuneralhomes.com