The Rev. Lee Wayne Parker Jr., a United Methodist Church pastor for 40 years, passed away at the Diamond Ridge Rehab Center in Lecanto, Fla. on July 8, 2014.
A service of celebration was scheduled for July 23, at the Crystal River United Methodist Church, Crystal River, Fla., with Pastor David Rauls officiating.
Lee was born on June 14, 1931, in Sharon, to parents Marie Isabel Chantrey Parker and William Lee Wayne Parker Sr. He was a member of the Sharpsville First United Methodist Church and attended Sharpsville schools, where he served as Senior Class president and participated in sports, music, and honor society. At Allegheny College he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity; played as a starter on the Gators basketball team; and sang tenor with the Allegheny Singers, remaining a faithful member of the choir through the last 2012 reunion.
After earning his BA degree in 1953, Lee taught American History and coached basketball in the Mercer school system. He married his high school sweetheart, Averyl Faye Smock, on Aug. 21, 1954. Shortly thereafter, Lee enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed for two years at Fort Knox, Ky. Upon his return to Sharpsville, he worked in his parents' business, the Parker Lumber Company, while earning a master's degree in science and education at Westminster College in 1958.
Heeding a long-felt call to the ministry, in 1961 Lee moved his family to Drew University, Madison, N.J., where he graduated with a Master's of Divinity Degree in 1965. Part of his graduate study included "student preaching" in the Everittstown and Pattenburg, N.J., United Methodist churches. With their four children, Lee and Faye returned to Pennsylvania in 1965 to take a preaching position at the Linesville and Harmonsburg UMCs. Lee served there for five years before becoming pastor at the Edinboro UMC from 1970 - 1981. Next, he was appointed minister to the West View UMC in Pittsburgh from which he retired in 1992. He proceeded to build his dream home in Treasure Lake.
An energetic and committed person, Lee couldn't stay retired for long – he soon returned to preaching at the Mt. Zion UMC in DuBois. In 2003, Lee fulfilled his dream to retire to Florida.
A skillful communicator, Rev. Lee illuminated scripture using current references; he touched his congregation with humorous and poignant anecdotes. Creative and entertaining, he delighted parishioners of all ages with his "Safari Pastor, searching for God's truth in the jungles of life" children sermons. Deeply empathetic to others' tough situations, he devoted countless hours in counsel and prayer to those in need.
Everyone who knew Lee felt his love. He made us laugh with his quick wit. He comforted us with the right words. He inspired us with his faith. He answered his Call.
Lee is survived by his wife of 60 years, Faye, and children Linda, Donald, Christopher, Melanie; granddaughter Heather, and son-in-law Tom as well as sister Florence Parker Alexander and nieces and nephews Cynthia, Jeffery, Rodney and Laurel. He is predeceased by parents Lee and Marie Parker and niece Jennifer Lee.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to United Methodist Committee on Overseas Relief (UMCOR), 475 Riverside Dr., Room 1520, New York, N.Y. 10115.
Funeral arrangements were made by the Strickland Funeral Home and Crematory, Crystal River, Fla.