Thomas H. Parker, 80, was born in Stockton, California, November 14, 1936 to William Bratton and Brynhild Branstad Parker. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on April 29, 2017.
He was raised on a farm settled by his Norwegian ancestors on Eight Mile Road. The youngest of three, Tom learned how to read before he started school. He helped out with the many chores on the ranch, always ending the day with a home-cooked meal and discussion of world politics and important events. While living on the ranch, Tom always had a horse. When he started school, he rode his horse “Cowboy” to Harmony Grove Elementary, a one-room schoolhouse. Later on, Tom attended Lodi High School where he excelled in football and was fortunate to meet the love of his life and future wife, Jacqueline Johnson.
Tom was a gifted athlete and scholar. Following high school, he continued his education at UC Davis, where he played varsity football and earned Small College All-American Honors. After completing his BA in History at Davis, he obtained his MA in Education at UC Berkeley.
Tom was blessed to find his true calling in education. His career began in the Berkeley Unified School District as a history teacher and football coach. A natural leader with an affinity for connecting with both students and staff, Tom quickly moved on to administration, ultimately serving as principal of Berkeley High School. In 1979, Tom returned to the Central Valley as principal of Turlock High School. He is remembered in both Berkeley and Turlock as a thoughtful leader and school administrator who brought much needed reform to his schools, with a focus on higher learning, achievement, and vocational training.
Preceded in death by his wife Jackie, he is survived by five children, Eric (Carla), Marie (Matthew), Jeff, Stuart (Christine) and Carl (Shannon), ten grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Also surviving is his sister, Marit Evans of San Diego.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Saturday, June 24 at Cal State University Stanislaus, Dining Hall, at 12 noon. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Thomas Parker Memorial Scholarship Fund at Turlock High School.