Donna Perle Parker
Donna Perle Parker, 47, died Oct. 3 in Austin after a bare-knuckle, knock-down fight with cancer. Donna mastered every venture upon which she set her tenacious mind, a varied collection of activities that included barrel racing, cheerleading, flute playing, language arts, acting, graduate studies and eventually, real estate.
Born in Austin on March 24, 1960, the second
child and only daughter of Donald B. and Kathryn Raatz Parker, Donna grew up in Travis Heights near Big Stacy Pool and attended Travis Heights Elementary (Mrs. Perry”s First grade class) until she graduated from Sixth grade in 1972. That year, the family moved near Creedmoor.
Attending Del Valle Junior High during the day, Donna took riding lessons in the evening. At age 12, she competed in statewide rodeo contests, at one point ranking third in barrel racing and seventh in poles in Texas. Once she started Del Valle High School, she joined the band, competing in UIL contests in the flute. During the sophomore year she persuaded her mother to pay for private gymnastics lessons until she could flip end over end, and walk belly-up like a crab. The next year, Donna joined five other impossibly limber teenagers in the cheerleading squad.
Donna”s exceptional grades in high school earned her a seat in the National Honor Society each year. She also served two years on the Student Council and as class secretary. Twice elected class favorite, Donna was chosen Junior Homecoming Queen, and in her senior year, named Band Sweetheart and Miss Del Valle 1978.
During high school, Donna attended an International Flute Master Class in Ramsgate, England. Back home, Donna started her college trek at North Texas State University in Denton on a $500 scholarship from Tim Dorsett of Dorsett Ditching. Transferring to UT Austin, Donna majored in French. Donna was a Junior Abroad Recipient and studied at University of Nice, France. Upon returning to the States in 1984, she visited a friend in Washington, D.C., and decided to extend her stay a few months. To help pay rent, Donna took a temp job with a translating service that placed her at the World Bank in the West African Department. Then, on a lark, she auditioned and won a role in a Terrace theatre production at the Kennedy Center. It was only her second time on stage. She departed the nation”s capitol in October 1984 to tour with the Sweet Adeline”s, an acappella choral group that toured the Midwest and ended in Las Vegas at a national competition. In addition to her acting and singing, Donna was a songwriter and received the award for Best Bar Room Song in the Austin Music Awards. She received a BA in French in 1986.
In October 1987 Donna”s hairdresser arranged a blind date with one of her other customers, “a nice young man” named Craig Harris. They met for the first time over lunch and soon began dating. After holding off for years, Donna found her perfect mate. Craig matched her in charm, intelligence, wit, personality, business sense and ambition. They married June 1989 and eventually settled in Creedmoor where Donna had a menagerie of horses, dogs and cats.
The following year she returned to the American Studies program at the University of Texas. She wrote two masters thesis: the first one she shoved in her closet when her thesis advisors couldn”t stop arguing; the second she pounded out in record time, earning her Masters Degree in May 1992. After successfully completing her oral exam, she was admitted to candidacy for her PhD in American studies in 1993, whereon she assessed her prospects and potential pay as an English professor and abruptly switched gears.
Donna breezed through her real estate courses and joined Coldwell Banker in 1993. Two years later she moved to Keller Williams Realty. Donna excelled in real estate, ranking Top 20 Elite for all of her production years at Keller Williams. Donna also obtained her broker”s license, which required 900 classroom hours. All the while, Donna was helping her fellow real estate agents with marketing tips, client relations and other aspects of the business. Her innate teaching abilities came to the attention of Mary Tennant, the team leader of the home office in Austin. In 2003, Mary offered Donna an executive position as assistant team leader. Donna would train and guide the progress of 650 Agents at the Southwest Market Center, the most productive real estate office in the world.
In August of this year, while still in the hospital and enduring debilitating pain, Donna dictated the text for two books that featured a stable of mystery-solving horses. They were the first in a series of young adult novelettes she had dreamed of writing for three years.
Donna Parker is survived by her husband, Craig Harris; her mother, Kathryn A. Parker; her brother, Dr. Robert D. Parker (Sharisse); nephew Brice; mother-in-law Virginia Harris; and a host of family and friends.
The family received friends from noon – 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2007 at Harrell Funeral Home in Austin.
Funeral service was held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2007 at Harrell Funeral Home Chapel. Burial followed at Live Oak Cemetery in Austin.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to the doctors and nurses at the Seton Medical Center 7 North for the care and support they gave Donna over these past months and years. Dr Loukas and staff of SW Regional Cancer Center, Dr. (Uncle) Lamar Jones, Craig”s Employer United Heritage CU staff and coworkers, Mary Tennant of Keller Williams SW Market Center, KW Cares, and special friends Joyce Hendrickson, Denise Lewis for their hours of support and care.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to O”Henry Museum Writing Club for benefit of Creedmoor Elementary or KW Cares.
Guest book and obituary available online at harrellfuneralhomes.com.
Services under the care and direction of Harrell Funeral Home, 4435 Frontier Trail, Austin, Texas 78745, 512-443-1366.