Obituary for Willis G. Parker
Dr. Willis G. Parker of Clayton, IN died peacefully on April 15, 2021 at Life's Journey Hospice of Avon. Willis, son of the late Roy and Doris (Kelly) Parker was born on June 10, 1936 in Greencastle, IN. Willis and his twin sister Willa Dean spent their early years growing up on the family farm near Coatesville. As a young boy he was active in both 4-H and FFA and graduated from Amo High School in 1954. He volunteered for the draft and served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956.
Following his military service, Willis attended Purdue University where he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture in 1960. As an undergraduate student he resided in Rochdale Co-op House and participated in Purdue Reamer Club, Baptist Student Foundation, and Purdue Men's Varsity Glee Club. Upon graduation he married Linda Owens on August 14, 1960. They started their life together in West Lafayette, IN where Willis entered the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree with the second graduating class in 1964. After graduation Willis and Linda, along with their son Eric, returned to their roots near Coatesville where Willis established a mixed veterinary practice. After the birth of their daughter Lisa, he made the decision to pursue his interest in animal reproduction and in 1965 accepted the position of staff veterinarian at American Breeders Service (ABS) located in DeForest, WI where he worked for 26 years. The family's primary residence was in Poynette, WI where Willis served several years on the Poynette Public Schools’ Board of Education.
Throughout his life, Willis was a humanitarian who was committed to his profession as well as service to others. He was a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as well as the IVMA and WVMA, the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, the Society of Theriogenology, and the American College of Theriogenologists which he served as a diplomate and president from 1983-84. In 1990, Willis represented ABS on a trade mission to Lithuania. This experience spurred his consulting and educational programing trips to the Baltic countries and to Ethiopia with Project Mercy. In addition, he served several weeks in the United Kingdom for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Eradication Program. For his professional contributions, Willis was recognized by the WVMA as the 1991 Wisconsin Veterinarian of the Year and in 2000 was recognized by the IVMA as the Indiana Veterinarian of the Year. In addition, Willis was presented the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine’s 2000 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Willis's faith and values were an important aspect of his life. While a member of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Windsor, WI he served as moderator and on various church boards. During his several years of service on the Corporate Board for World Ministries of the United Church of Christ, he traveled to Sri Lanka on a mission trip. At the time of his death, he was a member of Hope United Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, IN where he served as an elder and contributed greatly to their mission projects.
Following his retirement in 1991, Willis and Linda returned home to Indiana where he established the Mill Creek Christmas Tree Farm on the family farm near Coatesville. He also continued his passion for historic preservation of agricultural implements, especially those related to the horse. He was a member of the Horse Brass Society of England and the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America. His interest in history included collecting postcards and he was a member of the Indianapolis Postcard Club. Willis also served his home county by helping to establish the White Lick Heritage Community Foundation, now the Hendricks County Community Foundation, and was a past president of its board of directors.
It is often said you can take the boy off the farm, but you cannot take the farm out of the boy. Willis often shared his love of the family farm with his granddaughters. He delighted in taking them there to share the joy of nature and his appreciation for agriculture.
In addition to his parents, Willis was preceded in death by his son Eric and nephew Christopher Yeager. He is survived by his wife Linda, his daughter Lisa Parker-Gummere and son-in-law Jeff Gummere, and granddaughters Erica and Anna. He is also survived by his sister Willa Dean Yeager, nephew Alan (Abby) Yeager, and great nephews Logan and Adam. In addition, he is survived by a large and beloved extended family.
Visitation will be Friday, May 14, 2021 from 3:00 to 8:00 pm at Bousley Funeral Home, 4980 N. Milton St., Coatesville, IN, and a memorial service will be held at The Barn of Coatesville, 5056 S. Milton St. at 1:00 on Saturday, May 15th. In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be made to one of the following: Project Mercy, 7011 Ardmore Ave., Fort Wayne, IN 46809 or online at projectmercy.org (designate Food Security); Purdue Musical Organizations, Ralph & Bettye Bailey Hall, 359 Northwestern Ave., West Lafayette, IN 47906 or online at purdue.edu/pmo (designate Varsity Glee Club); the Hendricks County Community Foundation, 6319 East US Hwy 36, Suite 211, Avon, IN 46123 or online at hendrickscountycf.org (designate Doris K. Parker Music Fund); or WRTP/BIG STEP, 3841 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53208 or donate online at WRTP.org (designate Eric Parker Memorial Fund).