NEW PORT RICHEY — Frank Parker always wanted to give back, his wife Judy said.
The former New Port Richey mayor and councilman cared about his community and worked to make it a better place, she said.
Mr. Parker, 72, died early Sunday after a long illness. He was known for his dry sense of humor, his love of the outdoors and most of all, his passion for his community.
That passion led Mr. Parker to serve as mayor and city council member, and also as a Pasco County School Board member. He also served on numerous boards in the community, including for the Tampa Bay Water Authority and the PACE Center for Girls. He was a member of the New Port Richey Rotary for more than 40 years.
Throughout it all, Mr. Parker’s willingness to do what he thought was right was evident, said Heather Fiorentino, former superintendent of Pasco County schools.
Fiorentino worked with Mr. Parker on the city council and on the school board. During those years, the board faced some of the biggest cuts it’s ever had to make. Mr. Parker remained a strong leader, Fiorentino said. His goal was to minimize the negative effects on students or staff members.
"He was always making sure we were doing the right thing," Fiorentino said.
When things started to get too stressful, Mr. Parker knew how to lighten the mood, she said. He had a dry sense of humor, and his one-liners made everyone stop and laugh.
"His quick wit was something that nobody would forget," Fiorentino said.
Fiorentino said Mr. Parker didn’t always vote with the crowd, but always did what he believed was right.
"He was a man of integrity," Fiorentino said. "That’s rare to find in a politician."
Mr. Parker was an accountant. He merged practices with Michael Stone in 1987 to form Stone, Parker & Company.
Stone said his and Mr. Parker’s lunchtime conversations revolved around what was going on in the community. Mr. Parker was proud to serve in the many roles he did, Stone said. He was proud of his city.
"He was concerned about New Port Richey and Pasco County," Stone said. "That was his motivation for wanting to serve."
Mr. Parker golfed every Saturday with a group of friends, and was always the scorekeeper, said his friend John Grey, a New Port Richey commercial Realtor.
Before they’d start, he went around to each cart and cut the erasers off the end of everyone’s pencils, Grey said. That way they couldn’t cheat.
"You gotta write it down one time only," Mr. Parker would say.
Of the many plaques he owned, his favorite was one Judy made for him: his "Hole in One" plaque. Mounted on it are his scorecard, the ball he hit and a cutout from an article published in the Tampa Bay Times with the headline, "Longest victory is on golf course."
Grey, who met Mr. Parker when he moved to Port Richey in the 1960s, also went with him on hunting and fishing trips across the country.
The first time Mr. Parker practiced hunting with a shot gun, he put his face too close as he shot, causing the gun to jump back and hit him in the eye, leaving him bleeding.
"He learned his lesson in a hurry," Grey said. "That was the last time that happened to him."
Most of all, Grey remembered Mr. Parker as loyal to a fault — something he brought with him when he served the community. He helped a friend if they needed it, and wouldn’t tolerate anyone talking negatively about his friends.
"If you were his friend, you were his friend, no matter what," Grey said. "We’d all probably be better off if we had more people like that."
Mr. Parker was born in Clearwater.
He graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
He is survived by his wife, Judy Raynes Parker; daughters, Joi Nutting (Michael) and Amanda Parker; sister, Sophia Amorginos; grandsons, Jake, Jess and Jordan Nutting; and great-granddaughter, Quinn Nutting.