One year ago our beloved friend and colleague, Tom Parker, passed away unexpectedly. We are reposting this remembrance to let Tom and his family know that he is never far from our hearts and minds. Especially today.
Tom Parker was a friend and mentor for all of us at Lines for Life. Tom joined Lines for Life in July 2010. No one cared more about our mission: preventing substance abuse and suicide. As Communications Director, Tom became a leading voice in the Northwest for people struggling with addiction and mental health challenges — and their friends and families. Through his work, Tom changed the perception of mental illness and recovery, helping erase the stigma that has hindered efforts at comprehensive reform of substance abuse and mental health treatment. Tom brought to life stories of challenge andtriumph — opening a window for us to better understand how we can act together, compassionately, to help our fellow Oregonians succeed.
We will miss Tom most of all around the office, where his quick wit and sharp insights kept us on our toes and made us all better. For the many people who saw him as a mentor and even father figure, the loss is especially deep. Tom brought empathy to all — the ability to understand and relate and care about the people he encountered in his life.
Tom’s humor was a central force for us all. Tom had an uncanny ability to find just the right comic or editorial cartoon to capture the mood of a day — and make us all laugh and think at the same time.
Before joining Lines for Life, Tom was better known as Big Tom Parker — an on air radio personality with an impressive following and career. Tom got his start at a radio station in Portland, and gradually worked through the ranks to KGW in 1972. In 1976, Tom made the big jump to leading stations in San Francisco, where he spent 10 years before returning to Portland. Back in Portland, Tom was a mainstay at K103, and more recently at KPAM. Tom continued as a voiceover actor and substitute radio personality.
Tom’s love for his family was unsurpassed — and he often took time to travel to visit his children and grandchildren up and down the West Coast. Tom beamed with pride when he talked about his kids. Shari, his best friend and partner of more than 25 years, lit up his life.
Tom passed away Saturday night following a brief illness.
One thing is clear: Tom was passionate about his work, and while we will miss him dearly, he would tell us that the best way to honor him is to build on the dedication and commitment he brought to helping save lives every day.