Dr. Joseph Lee Parker Jr. ‘38 Navy doctor on Omaha Beach
I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Dr. Joseph Lee Parker, Jr. He was a proud member of The University of Georgia family and the last surviving Navy doctor who landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy during the D-Day invasion of World War II. His heroism continued after the War when he established his own practice in rural Greensboro, Georgia, serving patients 24 hours a day and later as the chief of staff of the Minnie G. Boswell Hospital. Dr. Parker will be dearly missed, but the legacy of his work serving others lives on. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Parker’s family during this time.
Below you will find Dr. Parker’s obituary as provided by the McCommons Funeral Home.
Dr. Parker of Greensboro, Georgia died on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at the age of 95 at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital. He was born November 20, 1916 in Waycross, Georgia, the son of the late Joseph Lee Parker, Sr. and Vera Estelle Sweat. He was an Eagle Scout and a graduate of Waycross High School and The University of Georgia. While at The University of Georgia, he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and lettered in swimming. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia and married the late Martha Fleming of Augusta.
Dr. Parker served as a physician during World War II with the Navy and Marines. He was stationed in England and was part of the first wave of the Normandy Invasion during the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach with the 6th Naval Beach Battalion. He was the last surviving Navy surgeon of that invasion. He attended the wounded—both Allied and German—for twenty-one days on the beach. He received numerous awards and decorations from both the United States government and the Republic of France. Later, he served with the Marines in China and Guam.
After his military service, he established a medical practice in Greensboro, Georgia where he provided professional health care to the people of Greene and surrounding counties. In a rural practice with no hospital, 24-hour, 7-day a week house calls were an everyday event for Dr. Parker. He knew every country dirt road like the back of his hand. He was one of the founding physicians of the Minnie G. Boswell Hospital in 1949. He served as chief of staff for the hospital for twenty-five years until his retirement. Beloved and esteemed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, he was a hero to his community.
Dr. Parker married Carolyn Baugh Reynolds in 1987, and after his retirement they traveled all over the world. He also enjoyed spending time at his house on the Georgia coast as he loved being near the water. He built his first sailboat in St. Simons at the age of 14. He spent the last twenty-five years of his life on Lake Oconee.
Lee was a member of the Greensboro First Baptist Church and attended the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. He was a 60-year member of the Masons, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion.
In addition to his wife, Carolyn Reynolds Parker, he is survived by a daughter, Jane Parker '43 and a son, Joseph Lee Parker III, grandchildren, Mandy Parker and Robert Snider; Rynee and Michael Strickland; Allison and Dusty Laux; and Joely and Matt Nicholson, Great-grandchildren Hayden and Conner Strickland; Jonah and Sam Laux; and Parker and Tessa Nicholson. He was preceded in death by his brother Jack Parker and Anna Parker, and his sister Vera Parker and Cleve Mincey and a grandson Lee Whichard.
Extended family members are Frances and Gentry Strickland, Jamie and Kathy Reynolds, Marguerite and the late Troy McInteer, Harold and Lesley Reynolds, Beth and Bobby Thomas, Jim and Ellen Strickland, Bill and Tabi Strickland, Jamie Reynolds IV, Chandler Reynolds, Jackson Reynolds, Will and Jack Thomas, Carolyn, Mary Cate, Davis and Amanda Strickland, and Ella and Hal Strickland.
Funeral services were held Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. at the McCommons Funeral Chapel with Dr. David Key and The Reverend Joseph D. Greene III officiating. Interment with military honors followed in the Greenview Cemetery. Serving as pallbearers were Johnny Hester, Mike Bradley, Billy Jarrard, Herbie Thurmond, Chris Houston, Dr. Dave Ringer, Carey Williams, Jr. and Richard Maddux.
The family requests that any memorials be made to the Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit of Augusta VA, c/o Reynolds Veterans Association, Inc., 6350 Lake Oconee Parkway, Suite 102, PMB 163, Greensboro, GA 30642. McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements.