November 25, 1915 ~ January 23, 2014
Karl Alfred Parker
November 25, 1915 – January 23, 2014
Construction & Civil Engineer
Karl Alfred Parker, a civil engineer, age 98, died in his sleep January 23, 2014,
next to his beloved wife Margery, in their Manhattan Beach California home, next
door to their son Shale, who has been caring for both of them for several years.
Karl was born November 25, 1915, in San Francisco, California and taken by his
parents, Bertha Agnes Kittrell Parker and William Ralzemond "WR" Parker, back to
their home in Stockton., California where they were divorced when Karl was four
Karl's mother, Bertha started working for the Stockton City Treasurer and
moved with her son Karl to the home of her Aunt Ethel "Auntie" and Uncle Octive
"Octie" Martin, and Ethel's father "Grandpa Matlock", who thrilled Karl with stories
of early life as a wagon-master on wagon trains, sometimes carrying famous people
like the Eastern newspaper man Horace Greeley, who returned to New York to write
the famous "Go west, young man, go west!" Their home was a four-level boarding
house, managed by "Auntie", and housing many railroad men who worked for the
nearby railroad and roundhouse.
When Karl was 15, Bertha married Chester John "Cap" Rimington, a
decorated World War I veteran with the rank of captain. "Cap" and Bertha adopted
Karl's half-brother Robert, and a half-sister, Betty Daily (now deceased) who lived
Karl graduated from Stockton High School in 1933, and entered the University
of California, at Berkeley in 1934. There he joined the Navy through the Naval V-7
program, and was in the service and a student a the same time. Because he worked
his way through college, he did not graduate until 1943, where he received his first
Bachelors Degree in mining engineering, with 18 extra credits in economics,
accounting and business administration. What he learned in those extra credits,
came in handy during the last 50 years of his marriage when he and his wife Margery,
owned and managed fixer-upper properties which they repaired and turned into
After he graduated from UC California at Berkeley in 1943, with World War II
underway, the Navy sent Karl first to Harvard for officer training, and from there to
MIT where he was in the first class of naval officers to receive radar and sonar
He was sent to the Pacific, where he served on a "Bangor Class" destroyer
escort, the USS Bangust DE739, on which he had installed the sonar equipment for
his ship, which was always out front on the "picket line" protecting the Pacific Fleet
from Japanese subs from Guadalcanal to Japan. One submarine exploded directly
below the Bangor, blowing it so far out of the water, that the crew at first feared
their ship would be destroyed along with the sub, that was June 11, 1944. More on
the USS Bangust at: www.bangust.com
At the end of the war, the Bangust was very close to the Iowa class battleship
USS Missouri (BB-63) where the peace treaty with Japan was signed August 31, 1945.
Karl returned to California and through the "GI bill", got a second BS degree, in
civil engineering, with top honors, at Healds College of Engineering in San Francisco.
Since prior to WWII, he had first been interested in mining, Karl and a friend
decided to try gold mining using placer equipment in a mountain stream in Northern
California. They soon give up mining, as the cost was too high, and gold was only
$35 an ounce.
After working as a construction engineer at several companies, including
Bechtel, in the San Francisco area, Karl took a job at C.F. Braun & Co. in Alhambra.
In nearby Pasadena, he rented a cottage from Lee and Virginia Fogg who introduced
Karl to his future wife Margery Shale Marlett, whom he courted before he his sent by
Braun, to Montreal Canada to work on a refinery. Margery went to Hawaii and
worked for the Red Cross during the Korean War.
In May 1952, Karl finished his work for Braun and headed to New York City,
and persuaded Margery to come to New York and join him there. They were married
June 28, 1952, and postponed their honeymoon because Karl had already started
working for Ebasco Services, Inc. in New York, as a resident engineer.
Then, in 1956, Ebasco sent Karl to help build a steam power plant along the
Yellowstone River, in Northeast Montana on the Canadian boarder. There, in January
1957, Margery gave birth to their twins, a son, Shale Kittrell, and a daughter,
Margaret Isabella. Upon completion of the power plant, they moved to Southern
California and settled in Torrance in 1960.
Besides Bectal, Braun, and Ebasco, Karl also worked for several other large
construction companies including the Flour Corp., Ray Watt, and Holiday Inns. A few
local recognizable projects are two round, twelve story Holiday Inns, one at the
Sunset Blvd. exit along the 405 Fwy. near Brentwood, and the other one at the
Lakewood Blvd. Exit, in Long Beach also along the 405 Fwy., several Bank of
America buildings including the the local branch on PCH in South Redondo Beach,
and many County of Los Angeles buildings, including the Whittier Narrows golf
clubhouse. He and his associates were also instrumental in the construction of the
Redondo Beach King Harbor and the Portofino Inn.
After retiring from the construction business, Karl worked everyday alongside
his wife in their real-estate business of buying and improving fixer-upper properties
turning them into rentals.
While in New York City, Karl developed his interest in writing at the New
School for Social Research and in public speaking by joining Toastmasters
International. He had short stories published in New School Anthologies, and read
by a Hollywood agent who asked Karl to write scripts for films and television, but he
decided just to write as a hobby. On weekends he and Margery enjoyed going to
Broadway matinees, visiting museums and art galleries, and making pen and ink
sketches of interesting people and places. He also loved doing watercolor drawings.
Karl and Margery were married sweethearts for 62 years, born-again believers
and members of Cross Road Church, formerly Calvary Baptist Church in Gardena,
California, for over 50 years.
Karl is survived by his wife Margery, his son, Shale Parker, his daughter,
Margaret Parker-Schyvinch, his grandchildren, Daniel Parker, Joseph Parker, Rosalea
Parker-Banda, Megan Schyvinch, Abigail Schyvinch-Schultz, and by his greatgrandchildren
Ava Banda, L.Hunter Lybert and Isabella Faith Lybert,
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, February 23, 2014, at 12:30PM at
the Cross Road Church, in Gardena, CA, located at: 2818 Manhattan Beach Blvd.,
Gardena CA 90249 at the corner of Manhattan Beach Blvd. and Crenshaw Blvd., next
to McDondalds, and across from El Camino College.
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