Former Editor of The Montgomery Independent and The Millbrook Independent, Art Parker, was recently recognized for his contributions to journalism and his community. Parker was seriously injured in an automobile accident on Zelda Road in late September 2020. He died due to his injuries on November 1, 2020.
The Alabama Press Association announced their recognition of Parker with an APA Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year. The formal recognition will come during the APA’s Summer Convention in June. Adam Powell, Editor of The Selma Times-Journal and a protege of Parker’s nominated him for the honor. Powell was a journalism student at Troy University who completed his internship at The Millbrook Independent where Parker served as Editor.
“From the first day I met him, Art demonstrated an extreme passion for local journalism, a heavy-handed approach to ethics and a dogged determination to root out every morsel of truth,” Powell said. “Art treated the tiny Millbrook paper as if every story were of the utmost importance, as if every subject might hold some hidden truth that needed to be ferreted out.
“Like so many journalists who toil in tiny, understaffed and underpaid newsrooms, Art made his career in small towns, small newsrooms and small newspapers which are the backbone of any community,” Powell said.
Powell also fondly recalled that Parker introduced him to thoroughbred horse racing, and when the work was done they would sometimes drive to Victoryland in Macon County and ‘play the ponies.’
Years before he became Editor of The Millbrook Independent, Parker worked as Sports Editor and Associate Editor for Bob Martin at The Montgomery Independent. Even after Martin retired and Parker took over his duties as Editor of The Montgomery Independent, Parker still assisted in covering sports. Parker was an avid sports fan but he preferred watching young athletes at the high school level to the millionaires on pro sports teams quipping - “they still love the game at this age. They haven’t been ruined yet.”
Jeff Martin, Bob’s son and Publisher of The Montgomery Independent when Parker died in November 2020 said there were not many athletes or their families in Montgomery and surrounding areas that Parker did not know and that Parker had covered high school sports so long he was on his second generation of athletes.
In February Governor Kay Ivey issued a proclamation that recognized and commended Parker “for his dedicated service to the State of Alabama and the Montgomery community.”
Rep. David Wheeler along with Mayor Al Kelley of Millbrook, both fellow Alabama Jaycees and lifelong friends with Parker, presented Gov. Ivey’s proclamation to Parker’s family at a Millbrook City Council meeting in late March.
“Parker was a politician,” Kelley said during a tearful remembrance of his friend, “but he wasn’t a politician like me or like David. He worked behind the scenes and he would think of things other people would miss. I came to rely on him for his political advice, but especially as a valued friend,” Kelley said.
Wheeler added, “Art was a dedicated community leader with a passion for newspapering, high school sports and handicapping the ponies. He will be sorely missed.”