Noel David Godfree Parker was born in Glendale, California, just outside Los Angeles on 9th January 1937.
He was the son of Eric, a World War I veteran, and Eveline, a former employee of the Bell Telephone Co. He was a loving brother to Joan, Stan, Ruth and Rosemary. He was a citizen variously of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Noel’s family moved to a farm in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island in 1939. He attended St. George’s School in Vancouver, and also briefly Hollywood High School in California, before joining the Royal Canadian Navy as an officer cadet in 1955.
He graduated from the Junior Officer Training Establishment, HMCS Venture, as a Midshipman in 1956. He went on to study at the Royal Naval Engineering College, HMS Thunderer, in Plymouth, UK, graduating as a mechanical engineer in 1960. He served on both HMCS Ontario and the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes where attained his watch-keeping certificate. He was honorably discharged in 1961 as a sub-lieutenant. He remained close to his Navy cohort his entire life.
On leaving the Navy, Noel worked in Libya for the construction firm Gordon Woodroffe Ltd, another important formative experience, which left him with a life-long love of travel and of exposure to foreign cultures. In the last few years alone, he visited Singapore, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, and Japan. His last trip, earlier this year, was an extended solo drive along Route 66 from Pennsylvania to Texas. He always wanted to know what was over the next hill.
Noel married Margaret Williams in May 1967 and they remained a devoted couple for more than forty years. They settled in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and together raised a son, Thomas.
Noel settled into a second career as a property developer, agent and valuer, working mostly with the Foord family in London, but also traveling all over the United Kingdom, which gave him great pleasure. He loved the English countryside.
But work was never Noel’s driving passion. Family came first. Golf, sport, entertaining, gardening, and a love of history all came in close seconds. He had a great appetite for life, and a wide circle of friends from all over the world. Maidenhead Golf Club, where he was a member for forty-four years, held a special place in his heart.
Noel unselfishly cared for Margaret after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, ensuring that she was able to live out her life in her own home despite the many difficult challenges this cruel disease forced upon them both. This act of love and devotion made a profound impression on all who witnessed it. Margaret finally passed away in April 2008.
Noel moved back across the Atlantic in 2015 to be closer to his family, and settled in Graham, North Carolina. He forged special bonds with his daughter-in-law Margaret, his grandson Nicholas, and with the family dog, Scotch, who will all miss him tremendously.
Never one to leave any task, no matter how arduous, to someone else, Noel fell on October 16th while working in his garden. He fractured two vertebrae and was rushed to Duke Hospital for an operation on his spine.
While Noel initially seemed to be recovering remarkably well from the surgery, he took a very sudden turn for the worse on November 1st and was overcome by breathing difficulties brought on by his injury.
He met the end, as he lived his life, very much on his own terms. His family was with him at the last.
Going through his papers, Noel’s son came across this note:
“When I die think this of me. Born in a foreign land in a troubled time. Raised as a true Brit, had an interrupted schooling but was molded by the Royal Navy. Lived with worldly ideals of peace and prosperity and equality for all men and women regardless of color, creed or political persuasion. My hatred of extremism, intolerance and nationalism and self-interest was an unswerving belief.”
This seems a fitting epitaph, and he would have enjoyed having the last word.
Please, in a quiet moment, raise a glass of your favorite tipple in his honor. Nothing would please him more.