VAIL — Timothy Leslie Parker traveled the world, had all sorts of adventures, loved one woman and was a Royal Marine to his very marrow.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” he often said.
When hundreds of motorcyclists gather Saturday to ride together to his memorial service, you can relax. They’re on your side. They’re from the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets motorcycle club, which Parker was a member of and loved very much.
Parker was born June 29, 1964. He died on his birthday, riding his beloved Harley Davidson home from a Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets event in Grand Junction.
Parker was born in Bristol, England, and had the very good sense to marry Maggie. Maggie is from Northern Ireland. They met when she was traveling in England, even though his Royal Marines 40 Commando unit spent time in her native Northern Ireland.
His parents, Les and Mary Parker, immigrated to the United States from England and landed in Florida. As soon as they could, they sponsored Maggie and Tim to come to the U.S.
Five years later, almost to the day, Tim and Maggie took their citizenship test and passed with flying colors.
They traveled the U.S., camping and looking for a place to settle. They rolled over Vail Pass, took a long look down the valley and stopped to visit some friends. They decided that this is where they would plant their flag — or flags, in their case. Above Tim’s desk is a mortar casing from his Royal Marines days that he fashioned into a beer stein, holding the British and U.S. flags.
Tim was a master plumber, a degree he earned from a six-year indentured apprenticeship in England. He enrolled when he was 14 years old after his father gave him this bit of wisdom: “You can do anything you want in this world, but you’ll have a trade.”
His father spoke from experience. He’d served an apprenticeship and is a master electrician. Those skills served both father and son well. Tim finished with his master plumber certification from City and Guild College in London.
He spent 11 years with the Royal Marines and deployed to some amazing places, such as Central America to put a boot heel on drug traffickers.
His Royal Marine background led him to Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets, an international veterans organization. On one arm Parker had tattooed his Royal Marines Commando insignia. On the other was a Harley Davidson. He called his fellow Marines and Harley club members brothers, and was recently elected secretary.
The Florida branch of the motorcycle club has a Vietnam Veterans wall with a gap where Tim’s ashes will be placed, along with so many other veterans who’ve gone before.
Maggie bought him his first Harley, a 100th anniversary edition, in 2003 for his 39th birthday.
Maggie and some coworkers and friends were celebrating his birthday at the Jackalope. They hid the bike in the back room and covered it up, finally leading him to it and yanking the cover off. It’s blue and chrome, breathtaking and adorned with all sorts of Royal Marine insignias.
Tim and Fred Espinoza worked together at a local plumbing company when they decided to launch Meadow Mountain Plumbing and Heating on July 10, 2000. They did the field work and Maggie handled the phones and office.
Wednesday was the anniversary of their 13 years in business together.
They were quickly successful enough to start giving substantial support to local charities and launched the Meadow Mountain Give Back program. In 2012 they donated $33,217.60 to the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, according to their business website.
Tim is survived by Maggie; his parents, Les and Mary Parker, of Port Orange, Fla.; his sister, Tracy and her husband, Robert Gillespie, of Tampa, Fla.,; and his niece, Sara and nephew, Matthew, of Tampa, Fla.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935, and firstname.lastname@example.org