In memory of
Robert Manley Parker
In memory of
Robert Manley Parker
PARKER, Robert Manley Robert Manley Parker, age 82, passed away on August 27, 2020 at his home on Greenbriar Lake in Tyler, Texas surrounded by his family. He was born on October 19, 1937 in Longview, Texas to Ross Manley and Ida Lura Parker. He was raised on the family farm in Hallsville and had an idyllic youth, roaming the countryside, hunting and fishing with his father and cousins. His parents, who owned a small grocery store in town, instilled in him a set of values that served him well the rest of his life. He graduated from Hallsville High School in 1956, then attended Kilgore College and Abilene Christian College before attending and graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in 1961, and from the University of Texas School of Law in 1964. He spent one year in Washington, DC as the Administrative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Ray Roberts before returning to East Texas to begin a distinguished career as a trial lawyer and judge. He first practiced in Gilmer, Texas, then with firms in Longview before forming the firm of Nichols & Parker with his partner Rex Nichols, Sr. While in private practice in Longview, he tried hundreds of cases before juries, developing a deep understanding of the justice system and a profound respect for the role of trial by jury. Highlights of his private practice include trying one of the first product liability lawsuits in Texas. In 1979, he was nominated by Senator Lloyd Bentsen to serve as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and sat on the federal district court in Beaumont, Marshall, and Tyler, Texas. He later served as Chief Judge of the Eastern District. During those years, many of which were spent living in Beaumont, he decided numerous cases. He was proud of presiding over the desegregation of the South Park Independent School District, protecting the red-cockaded woodpecker in the deep East Texas forests, and tackling the emerging docket of asbestos litigation that arose from the gulf coast refinery industry. He handled more asbestos cases than any judge in the country and was innovative and imaginative, developing new techniques for efficient case handling and trials. During those years, he also engineered the Eastern District Delay and Cost Reduction Plan (affectionately called "the Plan") to streamline cumbersome discovery and rising litigation costs, which became a model for such plans across the country. While on the trial court, he served as the president of the District Judges' Association, President of the 5th Circuit Judges' Association, Chairman of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, and was appointed by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist to serve as a member of the Judicial Improvement Committee where he helped pioneer the use of new technology that allowed for modern electronic filing. In 1994 he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to a position as Circuit Judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where he heard appeals from the federal courts in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi until his retirement from the bench in 2002. He valued his time working with his fellow judges of the Eastern District and the Fifth Circuit, many of whom became close friends. Through the years, he taught and served as an adjunct professor at The University of Iowa College of Law and the University of Richmond School of Law. After a brief retirement from the bench that lasted one week, he reentered private practice, where he began specializing in mediation and arbitration, then later returned to the courtroom. He relished these years of learning new aspects of the law and working with lawyers from around the country on patent litigation and complex civil litigation. He also served for 13 years as one of the three Trustees of the DII Industries Asbestos Trust, administering the payment of asbestos claims. During his long career as a lawyer and judge, Parker received numerous accolades and awards. Particularly meaningful among these were the Judge Robert M. Parker Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the Judge Robert M. Parker Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas School of Law Alumni Association, and the Justinian Award from the Smith County Bar Association. One night when he was in high school, Parker attended a church hayride in Marshall where he met Frieda White, who was with another date. After the festivities concluded, he was so taken with her that he found where she lived and knocked on her window to ask her out. They married in 1958 and would have celebrated their 62nd anniversary August 29. They had as loving a marriage as this world has seen. They often reminisced about their young, married days in Austin when they had no money, and both worked multiple jobs and attended school. Nothing was more important to him than his family: his two daughters, Jennifer Parker Ainsworth and Celia Parker Bunt. He was particularly close to his two sons-in-law, Charles Ainsworth and Chris Bunt, and adored his four grandchildren: Charles Ross Ainsworth, Henry Price Ainsworth, Elizabeth Parker Bunt, and Andrew Robert Bunt. Parker fancied Pointer and Setter bird dogs. He loved gardening and remarked throughout his life that had he not gone into law, he would have been happy as a farmer. He spent his last days harvesting and pickling vegetables from his garden. He was a man of ideas and projects, constantly building and planning. He devoted countless hours to wooden boats, philosophy, and chicken husbandry. He believed strongly that this country's democracy depended on the fair administration of justice through the court system. He enjoyed finishing the day on his porch with a glass of Famous Grouse scotch. He was larger than life, and he enlarged the lives of all who knew him. Robert Manley Parker was predeceased by his parents and brother, David Ross Parker. He is survived by his beloved wife, Frieda, his daughters and four grandchildren, and his cousins Gene Gallien and Nancy Walker. He is also survived by his friend and companion, Cecil Taylor, with whom he worked for many years, by his Court family, and by numerous dear friends. A private burial will take place at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. Rev. Dr. Stuart Baskin of Tyler, Texas will preside. The family expresses our appreciation to Dr. Neil Adelman, Dr. Gary Goodfried. Dr. Paul Detwiler, and Dr. George Plotkin. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Judge Robert Parker Endowed Scholarship at UT Law School ( http://www.utlsf.org/parker ), PATH of Tyler,402 W. Front St., Tyler, TX 75702 or the East Texas Food Bank, 3201 Robertson Rd., Tyler, TX 75701.
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In memory of
Robert Manley Parker
PARKER, Robert Manley Robert Manley Parker, age 82, passed away on August 27, 2020 at his home on Greenbriar Lake in Tyler, Texas surrounded by his family. He was born on October 19, 1937 in Longview, Texas to Ross Manley and Ida Lura Parker. He was raised on the family farm in Hallsville and had an idyllic youth, roaming the countryside, hunting and fishing with his father and cousins. His parents, who owned a small grocery store in town, instilled in him a set of values that served him well the rest of his life. He graduated from Hallsville High School in 1956, then attended Kilgore College and Abilene Christian College before attending and graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in 1961, and from the University of Texas School of Law in 1964. He spent one year in Washington, DC as the Administrative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Ray Roberts before returning to East Texas to begin a distinguished career as a trial lawyer and judge. He first practiced in Gilmer, Texas, then with firms in Longview before forming the firm of Nichols & Parker with his partner Rex Nichols, Sr. While in private practice in Longview, he tried hundreds of cases before juries, developing a deep understanding of the justice system and a profound respect for the role of trial by jury. Highlights of his private practice include trying one of the first product liability lawsuits in Texas. In 1979, he was nominated by Senator Lloyd Bentsen to serve as a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and sat on the federal district court in Beaumont, Marshall, and Tyler, Texas. He later served as Chief Judge of the Eastern District. During those years, many of which were spent living in Beaumont, he decided numerous cases. He was proud of presiding over the desegregation of the South Park Independent School District, protecting the red-cockaded woodpecker in the deep East Texas forests, and tackling the emerging docket of asbestos litigation that arose from the gulf coast refinery industry. He handled more asbestos cases than any judge in the country and was innovative and imaginative, developing new techniques for efficient case handling and trials. During those years, he also engineered the Eastern District Delay and Cost Reduction Plan (affectionately called "the Plan") to streamline cumbersome discovery and rising litigation costs, which became a model for such plans across the country. While on the trial court, he served as the president of the District Judges' Association, President of the 5th Circuit Judges' Association, Chairman of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, and was appointed by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist to serve as a member of the Judicial Improvement Committee where he helped pioneer the use of new technology that allowed for modern electronic filing. In 1994 he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to a position as Circuit Judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where he heard appeals from the federal courts in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi until his retirement from the bench in 2002. He valued his time working with his fellow judges of the Eastern District and the Fifth Circuit, many of whom became close friends. Through the years, he taught and served as an adjunct professor at The University of Iowa College of Law and the University of Richmond School of Law. After a brief retirement from the bench that lasted one week, he reentered private practice, where he began specializing in mediation and arbitration, then later returned to the courtroom. He relished these years of learning new aspects of the law and working with lawyers from around the country on patent litigation and complex civil litigation. He also served for 13 years as one of the three Trustees of the DII Industries Asbestos Trust, administering the payment of asbestos claims. During his long career as a lawyer and judge, Parker received numerous accolades and awards. Particularly meaningful among these were the Judge Robert M. Parker Endowed Presidential Scholarship and the Judge Robert M. Parker Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School, the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas School of Law Alumni Association, and the Justinian Award from the Smith County Bar Association. One night when he was in high school, Parker attended a church hayride in Marshall where he met Frieda White, who was with another date. After the festivities concluded, he was so taken with her that he found where she lived and knocked on her window to ask her out. They married in 1958 and would have celebrated their 62nd anniversary August 29. They had as loving a marriage as this world has seen. They often reminisced about their young, married days in Austin when they had no money, and both worked multiple jobs and attended school. Nothing was more important to him than his family: his two daughters, Jennifer Parker Ainsworth and Celia Parker Bunt. He was particularly close to his two sons-in-law, Charles Ainsworth and Chris Bunt, and adored his four grandchildren: Charles Ross Ainsworth, Henry Price Ainsworth, Elizabeth Parker Bunt, and Andrew Robert Bunt. Parker fancied Pointer and Setter bird dogs. He loved gardening and remarked throughout his life that had he not gone into law, he would have been happy as a farmer. He spent his last days harvesting and pickling vegetables from his garden. He was a man of ideas and projects, constantly building and planning. He devoted countless hours to wooden boats, philosophy, and chicken husbandry. He believed strongly that this country's democracy depended on the fair administration of justice through the court system. He enjoyed finishing the day on his porch with a glass of Famous Grouse scotch. He was larger than life, and he enlarged the lives of all who knew him. Robert Manley Parker was predeceased by his parents and brother, David Ross Parker. He is survived by his beloved wife, Frieda, his daughters and four grandchildren, and his cousins Gene Gallien and Nancy Walker. He is also survived by his friend and companion, Cecil Taylor, with whom he worked for many years, by his Court family, and by numerous dear friends. A private burial will take place at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. Rev. Dr. Stuart Baskin of Tyler, Texas will preside. The family expresses our appreciation to Dr. Neil Adelman, Dr. Gary Goodfried. Dr. Paul Detwiler, and Dr. George Plotkin. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Judge Robert Parker Endowed Scholarship at UT Law School ( http://www.utlsf.org/parker ), PATH of Tyler,402 W. Front St., Tyler, TX 75702 or the East Texas Food Bank, 3201 Robertson Rd., Tyler, TX 75701.
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