July 17, 2006
PITTSFIELD -- The Rev. John Olland Parker, 70, of Amherst, former pastor of First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield, died Monday morning at Monte Vista farm, the family homestead in Vershire, Vt. Born in Pepperell on Dec. 5, 1935, son of Alfred and Molly Garstang Parker, he graduated from Pepperell High School in 1954 and joined the Naval Reserve in 1952, serving briefly in the Mediterranean on the USS Intrepid in the summer of 1955. He went on to earn his bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in June 1959, at which time he was also commissioned an officer in the U.S. Air Force. The Rev. Parker was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church in June 1960. He served as youth director at the Lynnfield-Wakefield Methodist Church in 1959 and then as student pastor at People's Methodist Church in Newburyport from 1960 to 1963. Upon graduating from Boston University's School of Theology in 1962, he was ordained an elder and became a full member of the New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He continued as pastor of Newburyport Methodist Church and also became pastor of the Byfield Methodist Church at that time. During the 1960s he undertook several assignments, serving as a youth pastor, chaplain of the Worcester Fire Department, and pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church. In 1978, he was appointed superintendent of the Connecticut-Western Massachusetts District of the Southern New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. In 1982, he returned to pastoral ministry. From there he came to Pittsfield and served on the executive committee of the Pittsfield Area Council of Churches and for several years administered its Emergency Fund. He served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield from 1988 until 2000. He retired from full-time ministry in 2000. In 2002, he was named Pastor Emeritus at Epworth United Methodist Church in Worcester. He served as president and loan officer for the New England United Methodist Federal Credit Union. He and his wife, the former Catherine Snyder, were involved in the choral programs for the churches where they have served. He enjoyed spending time at the homestead in Vermont and on the coast of Maine. He was a fan of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and University of Massachusetts Amherst sports. Besides his wife of 50 years, he leaves a daughter, Debra Orrell of Worcester; two sons, Breck Parker of Saco, Maine, and Wesley Parker of Amherst; a brother, Kenneth Parker of Hadley; a sister, Judith Moore of Brooksville, Fla.; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. FUNERAL NOTICE -- The Rev. John O. Parker died Monday, July 17, 2006. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, July 22, at 10 a.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church, Worcester. There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Epworth United Methodist Memorial Fund, 66 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609, and/or The Music Program at First Congregational Church, 102 Middle St., Hadley, MA 01035. Published in The Berkshire Eagle on 7/20/2006.