The Courier was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former employee and freelancer Joe Parker Jr. Parker was hired at the Coastal Courier in 1998 and was a true government watchdog for the community. Parker immersed himself in government meetings and covered military news with an acute attention to detail and unbiased impartiality. Parker worked at the Courier for 10 years before leaving. Even afterwards he freelanced for the Courier up until his last story which he filed just a few short weeks ago.
The Courier has received emails and messages from current and former staff who wanted to share what Parker meant to them.
“Joe Parker cared deeply about important things and wasn’t afraid to own his voice,” former Senior Staff Writer Daisy Jones said. “He was knowledgeable in so many things and I admired his resilience. We talked in the newsroom whenever we could, he was smart and caring. I will always remember Joe Parker. I met him when I was the 3ID Public Affairs Officer (PAO) and everyone knew him as the reporter who wanted the facts. I always remember him. Joe Parker impacted my life for good. I pray for his family and friends, that Father GOD will comfort our hearts and help us to learn from and remember Joe’s legacy. We come into this world and we leave an imprint.”
“I can’t even remember the first time I met Joe, it’s been so long – probably 1998,” recalls Bryan County News Editor Jeff Whitten. Whitten also served as a reporter and as an Editor for the Coastal Courier and said he and Parker worked together as reporters and later, when Parker became a correspondent Whitten relied on Parker to cover news about the local government.
“Joe was a good one, he cared about keeping an eye on government and he cared about making sure people were informed of what their government was up to,” Whitten said. “I’ll miss getting cranky emails from him on stories. I’ll miss knowing he’s out there somewhere with a legal pad and pen. My thoughts are with his family and those who cared about him.”
Whitten said he learned, early on, that Parker had a dry sense of humor.
“Back in the 90s or early 2000s when the Courier newsroom was up front and Pat Watkins was editor, we had a clock on the wall that ran by batterie,” Whitten said. “And at some point, the battery went out and nobody changed it. Then Joe wrote up a sign and taped it over the clock face. It read ‘IT’S LATER THAN YOU THINK.” And he was right, of course.”
“I didn’t get him at first,” Courier Editor Patty Leon said. “Like Jeff Whitten it took me a while to get his dry and sometimes sarcastic humor. But once I did, I couldn’t get enough of it.” Leon said they often went to lunch together where Parker would talk about a variety of topics. “I learned a lot from Joe. Not just the job, but he taught me about the history and the people in the community. I was floored when I heard of his passing and I still feel the loss deep in my heart. My prayers go out to his family.”
Former news and website Editor Pat Watkins said, "Joe was a true contrarian. He thought for himself. The world will be less interesting without him."
Former news reporter and Courier Editor Denise Etheridge said she met Parker in September 2009.
“I had joined the Coastal Courier editorial staff just a month before,” she said. “Joe and I both showed up to Fort Stewart in the early morning for the Vanguard Swarm. I was there to cover a story about then Sgt. John Huggins whose actions prevented a fellow soldier from taking his own life. Then Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo was in command and presented Huggins an award for his courage and compassion. I was new to the military beat and Joe was friendly and willing to assist in providing any background I might need. He was a veteran news correspondent and had covered Fort Stewart extensively for years.”
When she served the Courier as the Editor Etheridge said she and Parker had some editorial differences but, “Despite those minor disagreements, Joe remained steadfast in his dedication to being a government watchdog and protecting the public from the actions of misguided elected officials,” she said. “I also admired Joe’s devotion to family as he cared for his elderly mother. I was most sorry to hear of his passing. He will be missed.”
As of press time Tuesday Parker’s final arrangements were not finalized. The Courier will post his obituary online as soon as we receive it.