Walter (Walt) Parker was born in 1926 in Spokane, Washington. As a child, he heard about Alaska from his grandfather, who told him about his life in Nome during the Gold Rush. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Walt arrived in Fairbanks in 1946 with his bride Patricia Ertman. He studied at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and George Washington University, and received degrees from the University of Alaska in history and anthropology in 1964 and an honorary Doctorate of Science in 1997.
Walt worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for twenty years, and then was appointed to the Federal Field Committee for Development Planning in Alaska, which led to his lifelong involvement with land use planning, transportation, fisheries, telecommunications, and the oversight of oil and gas operations.
In 1971, Walt became an adjunct professor at the University of Alaska. He taught political science and planning courses while researching international fisheries and transportation. At this time, he and Patricia also formed Parker Associates, Inc. which consulted primarily on transportation and telecommunications issues.
Beginning in the early 1970's, Walt Parker held many key appointments with the State of Alaska serving on the Fish and Game Board, in the Pipeline Office, as Commissioner of Highways, Chairman of the Joint Federal/State Land Use Planning Commission, and Chairman of the Oil Spill Commission formed after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. In these various roles, he helped to oversee Alaska's progression as a young state, influencing the formulation and implementation of such major legislation as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act, the National Fisheries Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands and Conservation Act, and the Oil Pollution Act.
Over the years, he served on the boards of many organizations, including: president of the Anchorage Chapter of the Alaska Conservation Society; the Alaska Forum for Environmental Responsibility; the Prince William Sound Science Center; the Oil Spill Recovery Institute; Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council; the Alaska Hazardous Substance Spill Technology Review Council; the North Pacific Research Board; chairman of the Bering Sea Forum, a joint U.S./Russian group formed to protect North Pacific Ecosystems; and chairman of the Circumpolar Infrastructure Task Force. He also served as the international infrastructure and emergency response liaison for the Northern Forum. In addition, Walt was a senior fellow at the Institute of the North at Alaska Pacific University, and in 1995 President Clinton appointed him to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
Walt Parker passed away on June 25, 2014. For more about Walt Parker, see his obituary and an article about him in the Alaska Dispatch News, and an article in the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council’s newsletter.