Thursday, October 29, 2015

Olva Clayton Parker (1860-1922)

Portrait courtesy of

   Today's profile on Olva Clayton Parker (a two term mayor of Tucson, Arizona) is important as it proves that there are still new discoveries to be made when it comes to oddly named mayors of major U.S. cities. Aside from having a first name that sounds like it could be part of the human anatomy, Olva C. Parker is also on a short list of odd name political figures who were undertakers by profession--Ophir LeRoy Hering and Survellon Burr Holcombe now have some company!
   Born in Paris, Tennessee on January 28, 1860, Olva Clayton Parker was the son of Jessie and Elizabeth Parker. He would remove with his family to Anna, Illinois during his childhood and here attended school. During his late teens, Parker took work as a clerk in the "money order department" of the local post office and in 1879 left Illinois for the West. taking a stagecoach from Kansas City to Las Vegas, New Mexico, reaching his destination in April of that year. 
   After establishing his roots in New Mexico Parker worked at cattle ranching for several years and also became caught up in the Lincoln County War, a series of ongoing skirmishes between merchants and cattlemen in the New Mexico Territory. Parker is also recorded in Ward Adams' History of Arizona as having "fought against the Indians at Silver City and participated in numerous drives against Indian outlaw bands." He married in 1894 to Honorene McDonald (1876-1972) and would have three daughters: Malvene (1895-1943), Grace (1897-1980) and Edith (1909-1985). 
   Olva Parker removed from New Mexico in 1896, resettling in Phoenix. He entered into the mortuary business during his time here, and in 1898 relocated to Tucson, where he established the Parker Mortuary, a business which he continued to operate until his death in 1922. The succeeding years saw Parker's name become one of the most prominent in Tucson business circles, and in addition to his mortuary company was connected with a number of other interests in the city, including being a director of the Arizona National Bank of Tucson and the Cochise Copper Company.
  In 1916 Olva C. Parker was elected as Mayor of Tucson, officially taking office in 1917. He would serve two terms as Mayor and during his second term saw Tucson become home to the first municipally owned airport in the United States, the Tucson Municipal Flying Field, opened in November 1920.
  After leaving office in 1921 Parker took on the position of president of the Arizona Good Roads Association. In the last year of his life, he incurred a bout of blood poisoning as the result of a scratch on his foot, which weakened his health substantially. He died on August 13, 1922 at age 62, as the result of "diabetes and Bright's disease" and was survived by his wife and three daughters. Following her death at age 96 in 1972 Honorene Parker was interred alongside her husband at the Evergreen Memorial Park in Tucson

From the August 15, 1922 edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen,

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