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Olin Griffith Parker

February 28, 1922 August 5, 2019
Olin  Griffith Parker
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Obituary for Olin Griffith Parker

Olin Griffith Parker, 97, died peacefully, surrounded by family, at his home in Greenville, North Carolina on August 5.

Visitation will be at St. James United Methodist Church on Thursday, August 8th from 1:00-2:30. The funeral service will follow at 3:00 PM. Memorial contributions can be made to the Olin G. and Melba Joy Parker Scholarship for music education students at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music or to the music program at St. James United Methodist Church.

He was born during a blizzard on February 28, 1922 on a wheat farm near Plains, Kansas and attended public schools there. At Plains High School Olin was active in chorus and band (performing on five instruments) and lettered in football, basketball, and tennis. He had the lead in both the junior and senior plays, was president of the senior class, and graduated valedictorian in 1940.

Olin’s collegiate education at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas was interrupted by his service in the U. S. Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to Bethany, where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education (with minors in clarinet and economics) in 1947. At Bethany he played clarinet, sousaphone, violin, and viola with the band, orchestra, and Blue Dozen Pep Band. He was president, Alpha Sigma Nu (social fraternity), and active in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, National Honorary Music Fraternity. At the University of Kansas he earned his Master of Music Education degree, minoring in educational psychology (1949) and Ed.D. (1961). E. Thayer Gaston, Olin’s major professor, was one of the founders of music therapy in the United States. Parker’s dissertation was “A Study of the Relationship of Aesthetic Sensitivity to Musical Ability, Intelligence, and Socioeconomic Status.” At KU, he was active in Phi Delta Kappa, National Honorary Education Fraternity, was elected to membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, National Honorary Music Fraternity, and was the first to perform a solo clarinet recital at the University of Kansas (January 7, 1951).

Parker joined the U. S. Army in March 1943, becoming a commissioned officer the following year. He served in combat in New Guinea and the Philippines as well as in the Army of Occupation in Japan through May 1946. He remained in the U. S. Army Reserves and was recalled to active duty in 1951. Olin served as a unit commander on the front lines of the Korean War, primarily at Old Baldy. Earning the rank of First Lieutenant, Parker was honorably discharged on April 1, 1953. Over three of his four years overseas were served in combat. The Bronze Star for Meritorious Service was one of the honors of which he was most proud. His commanding officer’s evaluation summarized the personal traits that characterized Parker’s entire career: “This officer excels in dependability and executive ability. His organization, planning and execution of his assignments are complete. He is an outstanding officer and leader. He has continuously increased the efficiency of this organization. He is admired and looked up to by the men. His decisions in my absence have been sound and efficient. He has accepted all his responsibilities cheerfully and willingly and has delivered outstanding results. This officer is courteous, respectful and his moral qualities are outstanding; he sets the finest example I have seen to the men. He is neat in personal appearance and his physical stamina is superior. This officer’s greatest strength is his executive ability and orderly organization of missions assigned to him.”

Parker taught public school music in Kansas for fourteen years--- elementary music, high school band & chorus (Macksville 1947-48) and elementary, junior and senior high band (Leavenworth (1949-51). His most renowned student was Gary Foster, who became one of the most prominent woodwind players in Hollywood studios. Following Parker’s return from Korea, he taught band, orchestra, stage band, and music theory at Salina High School (1954-64), and conducted annual productions of Broadway musicals, variety shows, and productions of the Christmas opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” in addition to teaching countless private lessons and coaching small ensembles. For a dozen summers, he was on the faculty at the High Plains Music Camp at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas. In 1962, he was director of the Kansas State Lions Club Band, personally selecting the 244 members from over 500 applicants.

Dr. Parker joined the University of Georgia music faculty in 1964, and served as Associate Head of the School of Music for many of the years until his official retirement in 1992. During his years at UGA he taught 31 different courses (mostly in the field of music education), supervised countless student teachers, and occasionally taught applied clarinet and saxophone. He also established the jazz program and the guitar major at UGA, directed the clarinet choir and brass choir, and performed with the Faculty Brass Quartet and the Faculty Woodwind Quartet. In 1968, through his efforts, the music therapy program (now regarded as one of the nation’s best) was instituted at the University of Georgia. He hired UGA’s first African American professor, Richard Graham, to direct that program. Parker served on the new music building committee from 1975 until 1992. Although officially retired in 1992, Dr. Parker continued to teach the graduate level Psychology of Music seminar and supervised student teachers when needed until 2014. Counting part-time years, he spent 64 years a music educator.

His teaching philosophy was exemplified by his statement: “Music is a vital and recognized force in the life of humans. I believe it is the responsibility of music educators to devote their lies to the pursuit of providing lifelong musical experiences that enhance the cultural heritage, help people to mature, and aid them in their attempts to satisfy their aesthetic needs. Music is the essence of humanness. I sought to contribute to the efficacy of the teaching of our public school music educators by my attendance at and participation in national and international professional conferences. From those conferences, I brought to my classes the latest research that centered on how music is learned and how the merging of the neurosciences with music psychology extended into the advancement of quality teaching and learning in music education.”

The late Ralph Verrastro, former head of the music department at UGA, wrote: “In carrying out the responsibilities of my position I have occasion to meet and visit with alumni of the department and University. In these meetings, Dr. Parker’s name inevitably comes up and I am impressed with the high esteem in which he is held by former students. His high yet human standards; expectation of the best from every student; his availability often well into the evening hours in assisting students with class projects; his open-door, ears, and mind in helping students with academic and career matters; his academic advising and counseling; his class preparation, patience, integrity, and sincere interest in students; and his continued interest and assistance after graduation characterize the comments of former students as they fondly relate their experience with and impression of Dr. Parker while at the University.”

Parker published over fifty articles and presented 48 refereed papers at professional conferences on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. During the course of his career, he lectured in 39 states and 45 countries. He served as a guest lecturer at East Carolina University every year from 1988 until 2013. He was a member of the American Music Therapy Association, College Music Society, Council for Research in Music Education, European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Music Educators Association, International Society for Music Education, National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors, National Band Association, and many other professional organizations. He served leadership positions with the Athens Area Retired Teachers Association, Georgia Music Educators Association (college chairman), UGA chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (10 years as governor of Province 36), the UGA chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda, and the UGA Retired Educators Association.

A lifelong Methodist, Olin was a man of deep religious faith. For most of his life, he was a church choir member and Sunday School song leader.
He was member of First United Methodist Church in Athens, Georgia and the St. James United Methodist Church in Greenville, North Carolina.

Parker was a founding member of the Classic City Band in Athens, Georgia in 1976. He served as co-director of that organization for two years and sole director for the ensuing three. During his 40-year association with the Classic City Band, he played the following instruments where needed: tuba, clarinet (E-flat, B-flat, alto, and bass), alto saxophone, and baritone. His final conducting appearance with the band was on March 6, 2016, at the age of 94.

Dr. Parker received the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Orpheus Award (1977; for significant and lasting contributions to the cause of music in America), the Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Music Educators Association (1977 and 1990), the 1996 Distinguished Career Award from the Georgia Music Educators Association, and a certificate for 50 years of service from the Music Educators National Conference (2002). The American Music Therapy Association presented him its Presidential Award in 2011. Parker received the Love of Learning Award from the UGA chapter of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi, in 2017. He was profiled in many regional, national, and international Who’s Whos throughout his career.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Arthur Roscoe and Ida Lee Griffith Parker, his sisters Gladys Marie Parker and Myrtle Lucille Parker Hudson, and his beloved wife of over 51 years, Melba Joy Burwell Parker, whom he married in Leoti, Kansas on May 16, 1946. He is survived by his son, Craig Burwell Parker and wife Susanna Hays Parker (Manhattan, Kansas), daughter Michelle Joy Parker Hairston and husband Charles Hairston (Greenville, NC), as well as six grandchildren (Monica Joy Bocaner (Barry), Damon Glenn Parker (Lindsay), Jeremy Thomas Parker (Emily), Olin Grant Parker (Rachael), Miranda Joy Hairston Dunn (Anthony), and Kimberly Michelle Hairston (Carl Crawford) and eight great-grandchildren—Marielle Joy Bocaner, Dorothy Rose Parker, Olin Griffith Parker, Georgia Marie Parker, Corinne Bea Parker, Doak Greg Parker, Seth Joseph Parker, Natalie Louise Parker, Michael Anthony Dunn, Madilyn Joy Dunn, Gabriella Alyse Dunn, and Parker Edwin Crawford.

The family extends their profound appreciation to Julia Stewart (of Silvercare), his kind and devoted caretaker during his last years.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Thursday

8

Aug

1:00 PM 8/8/2019 1:00:00 PM - 2:30 PM 8/8/2019 2:30:00 PM
St. James United Methodist Church

2000 E. 6th St.
Greenville, NC 27858

St. James United Methodist Church
2000 E. 6th St. Greenville 27858 NC
United States

Service

Thursday

8

Aug

3:00 PM 8/8/2019 3:00:00 PM
St. James United Methodist Church

2000 E. 6th St.
Greenville, NC 27858

St. James United Methodist Church
2000 E. 6th St. Greenville 27858 NC
United States

Memorial Contribution

St. James United Methodist Church

2000 E. 6th St.
Greenville, NC 27858
Music Program

Olin G. & Melba Joy Parker Scholarship

Music Program
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