Port Arthur titan and longtime lawmaker Carl Parker passes away

Published 8:42 am Saturday, March 23, 2024

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Longtime lawmaker and Port Arthur political titan Carl A. Parker passed away Friday.

He was 89.

Parker was born in 1934 on 15th Street in Port Arthur and left home to live elsewhere twice: the first time when he attended law school at the University of Texas — he graduated in 1958 — and the second when he served four years in the U.S. Navy.

Carl A. Parker

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For more than three decades, he served in the legislature: from 1962 to 1977 in the House of Representatives and from 1977 to 1995 in the Senate. He was elected speaker pro tem and president pro tem of the Senate, the only lawmaker to hold both positions.

His accolades abound: He was chosen as Outstanding Senator by Lawmen’s Magazine and named among the Ten Best Legislators by Texas Monthly. He was chosen as one of two Americans at the International Education Roundtable at Oxford University. He’s been awarded the Arthur Stilwell Award for contributions to the city of Port Arthur and chosen for the Blackstone Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Jefferson County Bar Association.

He owned The Parker Law Firm in Port Arthur and Nederland.

He was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast in February of 2019.

“Everyone likes to be remembered,” he told Port Arthur Newsmedia at the time.

What he accomplished will long be remembered. He wrote legislation to create the Port of Port Arthur. He wrote legislation to create Lamar State College Port Arthur, Lamar State College at Orange and passed a bill elevating the status of Lamar University.

He sponsored legislation conveying title of Pleasure Island from the state to the city of Port Arthur, co-authored the Equal Legal Rights for Women and even wrote legislation to protect alligators.

The son of a Port Arthur mayor, he was elected to the legislature before he was 30 and, while there, became friends with some of the state’s most colorful characters.

One regret he previously said was missing out in a close race for House speaker. Billy Clayton of West Texas won a tight race, Parker recalled later, and may have promised several lawmakers that they would cast the deciding vote in his favor: seemingly a political plum.

Parker remained in Port Arthur after retiring from the Senate and handled a variety of legal cases, some as small as misdemeanors and as large as capital murder.

He represented foreign countries and even the city of Port Arthur, where he handled, among other things, arbitration cases. He said he never lost an arbitration case.