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News / Business

Local labor leader Parker dies

By Cami Joner
Published: April 2, 2014, 5:00pm

Well-known Vancouver labor leader and jobs advocate Philip A. Parker, who served on a number of county and state boards, has died.

Parker, 67, a retired journeyman electrician, died Wednesday night of a heart attack at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, wife Sherry Parker confirmed Thursday.

The couple moved to Battle Ground from Vancouver in 2008.

Parker served as chairperson of the Labor Roundtable of Southwest Washington and as vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48, where he formerly served on an executive board.

The Washington Senate recently reappointed Parker to the seven-member Washington State Transportation Commission, which helps define state projects and policies.

When it came to projects that generated jobs, Parker “always pushed whatever way he could to testify in favor” of those projects, said Ed Barnes, a retired Vancouver labor leader and a friend of Parker.

Parker always said he represented the entire state on the commission, and he was ardent in his support of the Columbia River Crossing, the now-defunct proposal to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge, Barnes said.

“He knew how important it was to commerce,” Barnes said. “He attended every one of the meetings to let it be known his tremendous concern for the welfare and safety of the community.”

Barnes first met Parker in 1979, when Barnes worked as a dispatcher for the electricians’ union. The two became lifelong friends.

Barnes, who had spent Wednesday with Parker, said his friend’s passing was a loss to the local community and to the state.

Parker was on the current board of the Clark County Public Facilities District and the Southwest Washington Workforce Development Council. He was a member of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and formerly served as an instructor for the electrical apprenticeship program, as a member of the tech Prep Advisory Committee for Clark College, as a Boy Scout leader and on the Clark County Planning Commission for 14 years. He also was a veteran of the U.S. Army reserves.

Friends say Parker was deeply devoted to his family. His wife Sherry said he enjoyed watching his grandchildren play soccer and liked to do father-son projects, such as restoring antique “muscle” cars.

The news of Parker’s sudden passing was a shock to his colleagues, said Roy Jennings, secretary/treasurer of the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m deeply saddened,” Jennings said of Parker’s death.

“He was a great human being. He cared about the community and the state.”

Parker is survived by his wife of 44 years; sons Jeffrey Parker of Sammamish and David Parker of Ridgefield; daughters-in-law Becky Parker and Tiffany Parker; and four grandchildren.

The family is planning a celebration of life, to be announced at a later date.