Charles Edwin Parker, chair of Johnson City Bedding Co. in Johnson City, Tennessee, died Aug. 12. He was 100.
Johnson City Bedding is a family-held regional manufacturer, a longtime Restonic licensee and a more recent Spring Air licensee. It also manufactures for private label programs and sells it own @Last brand.
According to Bob Parker, who succeeded his father as president in 1986, Parker enjoyed playing an active role in the company business and remained involved right up until two weeks before his death.
“We spoke daily, and my dad used email and Facebook to stay in touch, too,” Bob Parker said. “He was still doing much of our accounting up until April.”
Parker’s nimble mind served him well throughout his life. He pursued multiple occupations, some of them concurrently.
Born in Johnson City, Parker was already a trained aviator when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II. “Ace” Parker achieved the rank of Major and spent a total of 37 years in the U.S. Air Force, on active duty during World War II and during the Korean War, and serving in the Air Force Reserves. During peacetime, he worked as a civilian flight instructor.
Later, he studied accounting, becoming a CPA and eventually founding his own firm, Parker, Stewart, Shorter and Carden. He remained a member of the Tennessee Society of CPAs and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
When Parker acquired Johnson City Bedding in 1972, he was in practice as a CPA and had the company as a client. He bought the plant from Elizabeth Allison who had founded it with her husband M.H. Allison in 1934.
Parker purchased the business at a crucial point in time, his son said. The federal standard on cigarette flammability (CFR Part 1632) was set to go into effect in 1973. The company achieved compliance due in no small part to his father’s active participation in events and training held by the International Sleep Products Association (then the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers). Parker also took every opportunity to network with other industry members at trade show events.
“He was a wonderful father and a great business partner,” Bob Parker said. “We had a good long run. He loved what he did and continued to be amazed at the rate of change happening in this industry.”
Throughout his life, Charles Parker served on the boards of numerous philanthropic and civic organizations and was an active member of the Central Baptist Church. On April 1, Johnson City issued a proclamation signed by the mayor that honored his lifetime of accomplishments. (View PDF: Charles Edwin Parker Proclamation 4.1.19)
He is predeceased by his first wife Dorothy and second wife Barbara and other family members. Survivors include daughters Amy Parker Stover and Sally Parker MacLane, sons John C. Parker and Robert K. Parker, and stepdaughters Elizabeth Fenn Lowe and Mary Fenn Ladd, as well as eight grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be made to Central Baptist Church, 300 N. Roan St., Johnson City, TN 37601, or to the Dorothy K. Parker Nursing Scholarships at Carson-Newman University, Office of Advancement, PO Box 557, Jefferson City, TN 37760 or to East Tennessee State University, College of Nursing, c/o Teresa Feltner, 365 Stout Dr., Box 70617, Johnson City, TN 37614.