Robert L. Parker
September 28, 1935 – June 13, 2020
Robert (Bob) Lynn Parker passed away surrounded by family on June 13, 2020, at Kendal at Longwood retirement community in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Born in 1935 in Beijing, China, Bob was the son of medical missionaries, Daryl and Martha Parker. With his parents and brother Donald (Don), Bob spent his early years living in China, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio. After returning to the U.S. in 1949, the family settled in Hollansburg, Ohio, where his parents adopted two young sisters, Jean and Carol, completing the family.
Bob attended Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana, and Northwestern University medical school in Chicago. He married his college sweetheart, Carolyn Zunkel, in 1957. Three years later, their first daughter, Lynette, was born in Chicago. From 1962 to 1965, Bob worked as a physician in the hospital his parents had helped to start twenty years earlier in Castañer, Puerto Rico. Daughters, Beth and Kimberly were born in Castañer. After a year of surgery training in Galveston, Texas, Bob completed a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. As part of his work at Johns Hopkins, Bob took an assignment in Narangwal, Punjab, India, bringing along his young family to live and be immersed in the culture of rural India. Upon completion of his MPH, he joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, where he remained until 1986, undertaking health services research and later participating in research projects and consultation in many developing countries around the world.
In 1985, Bob returned to the country of his birth to take a nine-year assignment, heading up the health and nutrition activities of UNICEF throughout all of China. In 1994, Bob returned to the U.S. as County Health Officer in Washington County, Maryland, living with Carolyn in Hagerstown, Maryland until they moved to the Kendal at Longwood retirement community in 2005. At Kendal, he was a member of the group planning for a possible pandemic influenza outbreak, and he served on the infection control and prevention committee for the Kendal-Crosslands communities. He enjoyed gardening, and he planted and tended dwarf Asian persimmon and pear trees on the Kendal grounds. Other favorite activities included reading with Carolyn, working on his and Carolyn’s many slides and pictures from their international experiences, preparing PowerPoints with Carolyn about his work and travel, playing water volleyball and table tennis, and cooking and baking, staying active in spite of increasing challenges from his Parkinson’s Disease. Bob’s gentle spirit and steadfast compassion for others were reflected in his love for his family and his life’s work.
Bob is survived by his wife Carolyn; daughters Lynette Parker, Beth Parker Miller, and Kimberly Parker; son-in-law, Mark Parker Miller; grandchildren Michael, Itzel, Erin, and Emma; and siblings Donald Parker, Jean Swaim, and Carol Boehmer and their families.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made either to the Department of International Health of the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University https://www.jhsph.edu/giving/how-to-give/ , to the U.S. Committee for UNICEF https://www.unicefusa.org ,or to the World Health Organization https://donate.whofoundationproject.org/