1/15/1932 - 5/18/2020
Omaha – Paul was an esteemed musician, music teacher, father and grandfather. He was preceded in death by parents Roy and Bess Parker, siblings Roy Parker, Phyllis Cook, and Mary Hutton. He is survived by daughter Diane Finney, sons Doug Parker and Don Parker, 7 grandchildren: Jack, Sara and Samantha Finney, Nicole Parrott, Zach Parker, Jordain Smith and Cody Parker and 4 great grandchildren: Carson and Harley Parker, Paisley Riviera and Charlie Parrott.
Celebration of life services Monday 1:00 PM at Gretna United Methodist Church 11457 S 204th Street Gretna, NE 68028. Memorials to Gretna United Methodist and to the National Parks, www.Nationalparks.org.
Facebook Live Link for Paul’s funeral.
Roeder Mortuary, Inc. – Gretna Chapel 11710 Standing Stone – Gretna, NE – 402-332-0090 www.RoederMortuary.com
More about Paul’s life-
Paul Parker graduated from Auburn High School in 1949. As a student, he played first chair clarinet for four years in his high school concert band and drums in the marching band and percussion ensemble. Although he considered going into ministry, music won out for his career choice. He attended Peru State College, then the University of Nebraska at Lincoln where he played first clarinet in the Symphonic Band and principal flute in the Symphony Orchestra. Although his major was woodwinds he won the 1953 student auditions and performed the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto with the Lincoln Symphony in 1954. He earned a Bachelor’s of Music Education degree and a Master's in Music Performance at UNL as a double major in clarinet and piano. His thesis was done in composition.
He taught choral and instrumental music in public schools for several years; in towns like Ceresco, Johnson, Shubert, Talmade, Ord and Blair. After he earned his degrees, he became the elementary and junior high instrumental director with the Westside Community Schools in Omaha. He started the band program for District 66 at Arbor Heights Jr. High in 1962, building a strong foundation involving over 25% of the school’s population in the instrumental program. He showcased and recorded live The Symphonic Winds at a demonstration concert for the Nebraska State Bandmasters Convention in Lincoln in 1964.
Looking for a new challenge, Paul opened the Parker School of Music in 1970. He opened with the first electronic piano lab in the state with 40 students. Those numbers quickly grew to 500 students using 17 other instructors with music degrees. The curriculum included piano, voice, woodwinds, brass, percussion and guitar. In 1981 he created and founded the Nebraska Summer Music Olympics. This yearly competition encouraged students to practice through the summer months and continue to improve their craft. In 1984 he closed the school of music and moved to teaching from his home.
Being a musician you wear a lot of hats, so whether teacher, composer, performer or arranger he did it all. He was Adjunct Professor of Music and Woodwind Specialist at Dana College for 28 years and President of Music Publisher, Inc. and he co-authored the “Sounds of Progress” book, a pre-band method that sold over a quarter of a million copies.
He was an innovative and creative educator, always looking for better ways to make his students successful; which included non-musical lessons including the importance of self-discipline, the value of hard work, the wisdom to know good things don’t happen by accident and above all, to be humble.
His love of going out to eat went hand in hand with his ideas, as he was known for jotting down those ideas on napkins of whatever establishment he was dining at the time .
Paul performed 5 seasons with the Omaha Symphony on B-flat, E-flat and Bass clarinets, alto saxophone and flute. He was featured with the Lincoln Symphony. And he played piano, flute and alto clarinet backing the shows of legends like Rosemary Clooney, Jack Jones, Eartha Kittening, Stevie Wonder, Liberace, the Osmonds and more, at Omaha’s Aksarben Coliseum.
He’s been recognized throughout the years for his musical contributions, too.
In 2005 he was honored as Nebraska Teacher of the Year by the NMTA.
In 2011 he was named as a National Fellow at the Music Teachers National Convention in Milwaukee.
In 2012 Cambridge Who’s Who recognized him for his Excellence in Music, included in an issue of Pro-Files Magazine.
In 2012 the American Music Teacher Magazine also reviewed his newly published flute solo literature.
In 2015 New Horizons publication of the Eastern Nebraska featured Paul outlining his many accomplishments.
In 2019 he was nominated for Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Music Teacher Association to the Music Teacher’s National Association.
His teachers and mentors included Beth Miller Harrod, Audun Ravnan and Naegeli von Bergen Metcalf. His comprehensive approach he passed onto his students included audition preparation, music theory and many lessons that applied to not only music and academics but life in general. This was acknowledged by his students over and over.
He was the Music Director at Gretna United Methodist Church since 2005, just recently retiring in December 2019. He found this to be very spiritually fulfilling work.
He liked to tell the story of when he would take a 5 am bus from his home in Auburn to Omaha for piano lessons on Saturdays, then hitch-hike back. The 60 mile trip would take hours. He paid for those lessons by working afternoons at a local feed store. He said, “It was hard work but I loved what I was doing.” That’s dedication and that’s what he was all about.
Paul was a man of integrity. He loved many things: his family, traveling, eating out, a car with all the bells and whistles; but especially music.
Below is a link to a WOWT segment that John Knicely did about Paul-
Roeder Mortuary, Inc. - Gretna Chapel 11710 Standing Stone - Gretna, NE - 402-332-0090 www.RoederMortuary.com