Mayor mourns a Johnson City 'role model'

Robert Houk • Aug 13, 2019 at 8:00 PM

Charles Edwin Parker, a well-known Johnson City business owner and World War II veteran, died Monday at the age of 100.

Parker was former CEO and president of Johnson City Bedding Company. He was also an experienced pilot, who logged more than 4,000 flying hours.

Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock called Parker an “outstanding community leader of great character,” and said his passing represents an end of an era for the city. Brock was the childhood friend of Parker’s daughter, Amy Stover, and spent a great deal of her teenage years as a guest in their home.

“When I was growing up in Johnson City in the 1950s and ’60s, it was men like Ed who were the driving force of progress in Johnson City,” Brock said. “They were building the infrastructure of Johnson City, and made the city a place for businesses to locate.”

The mayor said Parker played an “important role” in the city’s history.

“He was among those who set the standard for the all success that we have been able to enjoy,” Brock said. “He was a role model, and we will miss him.”

In April, Brock presented Parker with a city proclamation citing his many life achievements. Parker was born in July 1919 in his grandparents’ home on Tennessee Street. Johnson City was then celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Parker attended Lamar School, but spent much of his childhood helping his family work their farm.

He served in the Army Air Corps, and later in the Air Force, as a primary flight instructor for 37 years. He saw active duty in World War II and the Korean War. He also served as a civilian flight instructor.

Parker was a certified public accountant and a partner in the firm of Baylor & Backus. He later founded the firm of Parker, Stewart, Shorter & Carden.

He purchased Johnson City Bedding Company in 1972, and was its president and CEO until 1986. He served as chairman of the company until the time of his death.

Parker served on the Tri-Cities Airport Commission, as well as the governing boards of Johnson City Medical Center, Watauga Mental Health Services and the Salvation Army. He was an active member of the Johnson City Kiwanis Club for 30 years, and was a past president of the club. 

His family will receive friends from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday at Central Baptist Church. The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m., with Dr. Ron Murray and Dr. Tommy Hood officiating. Following the funeral service, family and friends will gather at Monte Vista Memorial Park for burial.