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By Roy Dunn
For the Record 

Down Life's Highway

with the Late Senator Parker


Last updated 3/26/2024 at 10:11pm

Monday I got a call from Senator Carl Parker, I always called him ‘Senator.’ He said he was checking on me. I told him outside of nearly daily visits to some doctor, and having to get up too much during the night I was hanging in there. He said join the club about night’s ups and downs, that’s an old man’s curse. He told me he was due to have a heart valve repaired. I didn’t understand why it was put off, something about the doctor not being available. I asked if he had talked to Dr. Morbia, he said no, but one of his partners, Dr. Abochamh, had recommended the heart surgeon. Morbia, for 30 years, has been Carl’s doctor. I don’t know what happened between Monday and Friday. We had a nice, long talk about the old times when we were young and burnt the candle at both ends. Carl and I started out as political adversaries. For two elections I was W.T. Oliver’s campaign manager. W.T. was incumbent when Carl won the next two elections. Sometime back he wrote a column about how our friendship had evolved. I believe it was mutual respect. He once told me, “No one can accuse you of not being loyal.” Carl did me some valuable favors. I had the opportunity to do him a favor that likely led to him being elected senator. He, W.T. and Chester Slay were in a three-way race to replace Sen. D. Roy Harrington. Oliver ran a close third, putting Parker and Slay in a close runoff. Doug Harrington, my friend the pharmacist, the senator’s son, called me all panicked. He had just learned that W.T. was endorsing Slay. There weren’t any cell phones then but Oliver’s wife, Ann, gave me the address where they were gathered. I contacted W.T. and told him he couldn’t do that. He said he had already done it. He had not met with his supporters or financial backers so I told him he had to undo it. Chester Slay showed up at my office and left with tears in his eyes. He knew that with Oliver’s strong conservative support, he would beat Parker. I agreed. W.T. would not endorse either candidate; however Oliver’s supporters did endorse Parker in political ads. The last time Carl and I spoke on Monday, he brought up that race. Doug Harrington never forgot that favor and gathered funds to help Oliver with expenses. The singing Senator: Each time Carl and Beverly attended a party at our place Carl sang his songs. H.D. Pate always jokingly urged Carl to sing the only two songs he knew. Carl and I were the same age and we talked about racing down the hill to our 90th. We talked about all the old political grinders being gone. Gene Edgerly left us last year but Judge Flo is still with us, not as politically active but still involved. Carl turned in his column last Tuesday and we think it is worth running again. Beverly said he was working on a new column when he went to take a nap. I got the awful news that night. Senator Carl Parker was one of a kind. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He was one of the most decorated Texas legislatures, authoring over 400 bills that became law. Here at home, he was responsible for H.D. Pate becoming president of Lamar Board of Regents, Judge Don Burgess an Applet Court Judge, plus several district judge appointments. He was responsible for Gov. Ann Richards appointing me to the Sabine Pilot Commission. While I was on the Commission we swore in the first lady pilot. There were many more local appointments. Sen. Parker was the only legislature elected speaker pro-tem of the House and president pro-tem of the Senate. Rest in peace my friend.


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