Michael (Mike) Richard Parent, 69, passed away on Tuesday, July 20 in the care of Hope Hospice in Bonita Springs, FL after a short battle with cancer.
Mike was born July 30, 1951 in Lima, OH, the first child of Milton and Jean Ann (Walsh) Parent. He was the oldest of 14 children. In July 1963 Mike’s father accepted a new job – In Arizona and the whole family moved from Lima to Tempe, AZ, needing two station wagons just to transport the kids (11 at that time!). Family was always first and foremost for Mike. He loved visiting with his kids and grandkids, his many siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and extended family too. At one family reunion in Ohio Mike counted 99 first cousins!
He graduated with the class of 1969 from McClintock H.S. in Tempe, AZ and attended College of the Redwoods in Eureka, CA after moving to Humboldt County California in the mid-1970s.
Working at Cal Fire in Humboldt County (formerly California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection), he was hired under the recession era CETA program and soon advanced to the position of Logistics Officer. His co-workers hailed his work, “…an expert at filling orders for large fires and knew the right vendors to contact”. After his retirement from CDF in 2006 he was immediately hired as a reservist by FEMA’s Logistics Cadre where he helped with recovery procedures following large disasters including the 2011 Hurricane Irene’s damage to New Jersey and Super Storm Sandy’s 2012 devastation to the New York City area.
In Humboldt County Mike was an active member of the Fortuna Kiwanis Club and served for a while as its president. He was also a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the North Coast also serving as their president for a year. He was a member of the first group of the Cascadia Center for Leadership. His interest in politics led him to become active in the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee, helping with many fundraisers and leading as Chairperson for a while. In 2006 the HCDCC honored Mike as one of the two “Democrats of the Year”.
He loved baseball (San Francisco Giants) and football (Green Bay Packers) and followed the Florida Gulf Coast University Basketball Eagles. After moving to Florida full-time he spent many afternoons sitting in the sun listening to games or sports talk radio with a Budweiser in his hand. Mike also loved bowling and playing softball (was a power-hitter). He was also a proficient selfie taker – even before “selfies” were invented!
Additionally, he was involved with the Kinetic Sculpture Grand Championship Race as both an “Ace” racer and as part of another vehicle’s pit crew. It was at Ramone’s Restaurant in Ferndale (with a view to the finish line in 1988) where he met the woman who would eventually become his wife. He and Barb shared a love of art and the creativity and excitement of that annual spectacle.
They married in May 1992. Their marriage was in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest officiated by locally well-known psychic medium Mary McNeil and witnessed by dear friends Lynne and Fletcher Jackson.
After his retirement in 2006 Mike and Barb sold their Eureka, CA house and most of their possessions, moved into a 39’ fifth wheel RV and started their next adventure. Travelling throughout the US and Mexico and an occasional jaunt into southern Canada, they visited every state except Alaska. Their love of travel extended to trips to Europe, Asia and Africa. They were always planning the next trip. They loved spending time in Mexico, especially the Lake Chapala area. In 2012 they had saved up for a great 20th anniversary trip, spending two weeks in Italy/Sicily, two weeks in Malta and another week in Paris. It was a spectacular trip. Mike took many photos on that trip that he had printed on stretched canvas for display in their home.
While living nine years in their Alfa RV they met many wonderful people from all over the world. Many of those friends are still in touch and visit whenever paths cross. The Upriver RV Resort in North Fort Myers, Florida was their winter retreat for many years where they made lasting friendships with so many other campers.
Besides family and travel Mike took up the hobby of rock hounding and many of their RV travels involved going to areas where specific stones could be found, quartz crystals in Arkansas, Herkimer Diamonds (actually quartz) in New York state, Agates and Obsidian in Mexico and all kinds of treasures at the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Some stones he cut into slabs with a tile saw then shaped and polished into beautiful cabochons. Others he’d polish in the double tumbler that would punctuate evening meals on the road with its rumbling and clicking sounds.
In 2015 they sold the Alfa and settled down in Fort Myers, FL where Mike and Barb showered their new twin grandsons with love and attention. Mike loved to collect “scary” masks, hide in a hallway, pantry or closet when the boys arrived for a visit, jumping out growling when they found him with lots of squealing and laughs as they ran away! The boys adored their Papa.
Mike is survived by his wife, Barbara Ellis of Fort Myers, FL, son Adam Parent (Chere) of Virginia, step sons Ryan Nichols of Arizona and Kevin Ellis (Amy) of Fort Myers, Step-daughter, Melissa Ellis of Texas, grandchildren Austin and Liana Parent of Virginia and John and Bobby Ellis of Fort Myers. In addition, he is survived by brothers Jim, Danny, David and Tim Parent, aunts and uncles and numerous cousins as well as dear friends throughout the US and abroad.
Memorial services are being planned for next spring in Ohio and burial in Phoenix, AZ.
The family requests that any donations in Mike’s name be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or your local Hospice.
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