A leader says farewell – 80-year-old presides at final meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Grady Parker of Montevallo has come to the end a 32-year career as a public servant to that city. But his legacy won’t soon be forgotten.

Parker, 80, presided over his last regular Montevallo City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 27.

At that meeting and a celebration of his career hosted at Reynolds Hall on the University of Montevallo campus last Thursday, Parker, family and friends reflected on the accomplishments and the many memorable moments of a small town politician’s life.

Parker served for 23 years on the Montevallo City Council and eight years as mayor. He took his

first oath of office in 1972.

According to Parker, he attended 768 council meeting and saw the city’s budget grow from $100,000 to more than $3 million.

In a walk down memory lane, Parker produced a small pocket-sized pamphlet that he said was a list of the entire city zoning ordinances for Montevallo from 1948 to 1973.

He recalled getting dripped on by rain in city hall as a new member of the city council and seeing a motion he made to have the roof repaired fail to pass.

Parker said as the new member of council, he was also saddled with being the city judge.

He joked, &uot;I was well prepared … I had two quarters of business law.&uot;

But Parker said in his brief time on the bench, he convicted 58 people and never had one of his convictions reversed by a higher court.

Parker ran for office in Montevallo eight times and was unopposed in five of those elections.

He is being replaced as mayor this year by Sharon Anderson.

Councilmembers Bob Lightfood and Paul Brown are being replaced by Becky Cox-Rodgers and Hollie Cost.

In his final address as mayor, Parker said in recognition of those with whom he has served and those about to serve, &uot;The citizens of Montevallo have always put good competent people on the council.&uot;

The final night of political life for Parker saw the approval of a $3.3 million city budget

and the approval of a contract (pending everything was in order), with Jones Williams to build the new city library at a cost of almost $2.3 million.

Last Thursday while the Montevallo High School FFA String Band played outside Reynolds Hall, politicians including Republicans, state Sen. Hank Erwin and state Rep. Mike Hill, and Democrat state Rep. Jimmy Martin were among a host of family and friends on hand to honor Parker.

Both the Alabama House of Representatives and the State Senate honored Parker.

And the city of Montevallo presented Parker with a silver watch.

Parker was on hand for more than $6 million in projects during his career and left the city without debt.

He joked that now that he is leaving, &uot;All your streets are torn up and bridges are torn up.&uot;

He was referring to ongoing work to replace the Highway 119 bridge and street improvements in Montevallo.

He also noted that the city is going into debt for the first time. But that is to build a new library at a cost of about $2 million for which almost $1.5 million in contributions have been raised.

He also noted that the city has a $192,000 sewer project ongoing and a $200,000 sidewalk grant to place sidewalks where they’ve never been before.

It was also pointed out that the city is paying for a new fire truck to better serve the residents and the University of Montevallo.

More than a politician, Parker was married to the late Ann Kohen Parker for 53 years.

The Parkers have two children, Courtney Parker Murphy and Riggins Parker.

Former Mayor Parker was in the Fourth Infantry Division during World War II and participated in the invasion of Normandy.

Daughter Courtney recalled helping her father campaign for office while she was in college. She said she went door to door with him handing out pamphlets.

Son Riggins said he also helped his father campaign for about six hours one day. But his father had to take him home because he was only 7-years-old at the time.

Courtney even remembered a former fire chief sitting in a chair by Parker’s bed when he was sick with the flu going over a list of items needed by the fire department.

Parker family members on hand for the occasion at UM were Mason Parker, Merritt Murphy,

Grady Parker, Kim Parker, Rigg Parker, Jordan Parker, Courtney Parker Murphy, Billie Kohen, Barbara Kirkland, J.D. Kirkland and Dal Kirkland