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Parker, W. Dale (William Dale), 1925-2007



  • Existence: 1925 - 2007

Biographical Note

William Dale Parker, son of Otis and Eva Dempsey Parker, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on April 13, 1925. After graduating from Portsmouth’s Churchland High School, Parker joined the U. S. Coast Guard, serving for 16 months before apparently receiving a medical discharge in July, 1944. He entered the College of William & Mary the following spring. Though he referred to himself throughout life as a W&M alumnus, transcripts indicate that Parker failed out of the college. He later took a handful of courses at Goldey Beacom College, University of Delaware, and California Western University; following ten years of coursework, he graduated from the industrial engineering program of International Correspondence Schools in 1956. (His 1968 doctorate was an honorary degree, awarded by James Balmes University, Saltillo, Mexico.)

Parker had married Frances Ross Jennings on February 2, 1946; the couple would have five daughters. The Parkers took up residence at the Naval Proving Grounds (Dahlgren, Virginia) where Dale Parker worked as a draftsman and later claimed to have designed the first rocket launcher used in the United States. During this time, Parker also taught courses in draftsmanship, started a base newspaper, and performed private drafting work.

From about 1950 to 1961, Parker worked at the Wilmington, Delaware, plant of General Motors, serving as a plant engineer and later as an assistant director of salaried personnel, in charge of public relations and counseling. During this time, he incorporated Multiple Services, a small, nebulous business that, according to Parker, “contracted to do anything legal.” From 1961 to 1964, he was a management specialist for General Dynamics - Astronautics in San Diego. He also traveled as a lecturer, specializing in human relations.

In 1964, Parker was hired by NASA, an agency in which his brother Otis already worked as an aerospace engineer. Dale Parker worked as a management specialist for Project Gemini in Houston from 1964 to 1967, and at Cape Kennedy from 1967 to 1969. He is credited with bringing Project Gemini from nine months behind schedule to nine months ahead of schedule within nine months (source of credit: Dale Parker). He seems to have retired in 1969. The previous September, he had married Beulah Lee “Boots” Farthing, two weeks after the death of his first wife.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Parker engaged in a number of other activities: working as a pro bono "marriage counselor," as an official with various beauty pageants, as vice-president of Multiple Services, and in various capacities with several other small, short-lived business enterprises. Parker also devoted a great deal of time to volunteering with various civic organizations and charities and maintaining memberships in a number of fraternal and masonic organizations.

Styling himself a writer, Parker self-published several books, including The Philosophy of Genius (1971), Gutless America (1973), and Your Own Personal Angel (1997). He also shared his many opinions through newspaper columns, frequent letters to the editor, and speeches delivered to any willing audience.

Parker remained politically active throughout his life and was a prolific letter writer, offering political advice, asking favors, or sharing his opinions. Apparently guided not so much by ideology as an attraction to power, Parker contributed to both political parties. Though he seems not to have wielded the influence that he frequently claimed--referring to himself as a “presidential advisor” and “White House veteran”--he was in fact acquainted with a number of prominent politicians and had a knack for gaining their attention. In 1977, Parker mounted a short-lived independent gubernatorial campaign in Florida, and gained some media attention with his unconventional method of seeking a running mate through newspaper advertisements. In 1994, Parker self-published A Political Candidate’s Guide, claiming it was the first book to offer advice on how to run a political campaign in the United States. He also shared his many political opinions through various venues, including a short-lived political newsletter that he faxed to any media outlet or politician that he thought would find it of interest.

An entrepreneur of sorts, Parker made several ill-fated attempts in the manufacturing and marketing of various products, none seeming to have ever advanced farther than the developmental stage. Among these were the Amy Carter peanut doll, the space exploration and technology trivia board game, sports medallions, and gravesite-mounted photographic memorials.

By 1982, the Parkers had moved to Boone, North Carolina, though Dale Parker retained his status as a Florida resident for the remainder of his life. He died in Boone on July 8, 2007; Boots Parker, on December 22, 2008. Both were buried in Portlock Cemetery, Portsmouth, Virginia.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

W. Dale Parker Papers

Identifier: Ms-1989-093
Abstract This collection consists of the papers of William Dale Parker, management specialist on NASA's Project Gemini, General Motors plant engineer; General Dynamics management specialist; writer; businessman; self-described political consultant, expert on human relations, and genius. It contains correspondence, memorabilia, photos, scrapbooks, and ephemera relating to Parker's life, career and interests, as well as the life and career of his youngest daughter, Jacquelyn Parker, the first female...
Dates: 1914 - 2006