In Memoriam: Charles Edward Parker

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The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of retiree Charles Edward Parker on October 16 at Bailey Hospice Center in St. Augustine, Florida.  He was 87.

Born in Rockville Centre, New York, Charles was the son of Ralph C. Parker and Mildred H. Parker. He grew up on Long Island, New York, and in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

After a year at the University of New Mexico, he joined a team of divers who were under US Navy contract at Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California, to write the tables of ascent and descent for the new Jacques Cousteau invention, the aqua lung. He was the third man to go below 200 feet under water. Mr. Cousteau was first, and the head of the dive team was second. As a result of repeated dives, the men suffered decompression sickness, also known as the bends, which caused health problems in future years. The tables the team wrote are still used today.

Charles joined the US Army in 1951 and served as a reconnaissance scout in Korea. He flew more than 22 missions in a T-6 Texan plane and endured enemy fire. He was honorably discharged in 1954 and returned to New York.

Charles began his career at WHOI in 1959 as a research assistant in the Physical Oceanography Department. In 1966, he was promoted to research associate.  During his time a WHOI, he studied ocean currents while traveling to Australia, New Zealand, Africa, South America, Russia, Italy, and England. He left in 1978 when he moved to Maine where he went to work as the physical oceanographer for Bigelow Laboratory of West Boothbay Harbor. There, he studied the currents and eddies of the Gulf of Maine and cold water upwellings.

He retired in 1984 and built wood-strip canoes and three-dimensional copper weathervanes, the largest of which was a seven-foot, gold-leafed leaping horse for the top of a carousel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In 1996 the Parkers began dividing their time between Maine and St. Augustine. They became volunteers at the Council on Aging, delivering Meals on Wheels. In 2004 the couple moved to St. Augustine permanently.

He leaves his wife of 60 years, Patricia E. (Hall) Parker. He also leaves his son, Jeffrey H. Parker and his wife, Susie Parker, of Harrison, Tennessee; his daughters, Christine E. Rogers and her husband, Jim Rogers, of Brookline, Vermont; and Susan Parker Richerson of St. Augustine, Florida; his grandsons, Joshua Duke of Wellford, South Carolina, and Charley Duke of West Dummerston, Vermont; his brother, Paul Parker; his niece, Ann Parker Kinnebrew of Gainesville, Florida; and a great-grandson.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Robert Parker; and his infant grandson, Jared Duke.

Charles was cremated. His ashes will be buried privately at a later time in the Jacksonville National Cemetery in Florida.

Some of the information for this obituary is from the Falmouth Enterprise.

 

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