Donald Edwin “Nick” Parker (93)
August 25, 1928 – October 30, 2021
Vóhkee’ėse – Crooked Nose
Donald “Nick” Parker, beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather, uncle, mentor, and friend, passed on due to complications of a massive stroke. His children were blessed to be by his side, and he was taken care of by the excellent palliative team at St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Nick was born in Lame Deer at the old clinic, the site of today’s police station. His early years were spent up Logging Creek where his father, Alvin Oscar Parker and mother, Mildred Edna Osborn homesteaded a small ranch. The log cabin he and his six siblings grew up in had no electricity or indoor plumbing. The creek that ran nearby served as a refrigerator, and they of course dug a root cellar. Nick was the youngest serving member of his siblings: Clyde, Verda, Shirley, Lyle “Chink”, Vera May, and Ernest.
Nick could build or do anything. His hard working reputation began when he and his brothers fought Reservation forest fires. They would grab a shovel, hop on their horses and always got to the fire before anyone else. He said that a camp was set up to feed the fire fighters, but the brothers slept on the ground and were unpaid volunteers. Nick worked on a U.S. survey crew in the summer of 1945, was a quick learner and almost went off to school in Helena when his boss offered to pay for his schooling.
In the 30s times were always tough, so Nick spent a lot of time living with different relatives. He was sent to St. Labre School, attended the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby, and was even sent to live with a brother in Pullman, WA where he also worked in a dairy. When WWII started, he lied about his age in order to be hired at an aluminum plant in Spokane, WA. He thought it was the least he could do for the war effort since he was declared 4F. He had a crooked arm from being bucked off a horse as a child that was not set properly. He remembered one doctor who had him carry around a 5 gallon bucket of cement in an effort to straighten out that arm, to no avail. After he was released from the aluminum plant because he could not produce a birth certificate, he returned to Lame Deer. Tom and Liz Aikens took him in which enabled him to continue his schooling. He skipped a few grades along the way and flourished at Colstrip High School participating in everything from drama to football, basketball and was a state finisher as a pole vaulter. He is a proud member of the 1948 All-Class Six-Man Football State Championship team, currently in the process of being inducted into the Indian Hall of Fame. Nick was offered a scholarship to play football for the University of Montana, but declined.
Nick graduated Colstrip in 1948 and married his High School sweetheart, Margaret Trube. He took a job with Foley Brothers and worked at the mine in Colstrip from 1947-1958. He also helped support his young family by playing drums in a dance band, and as a referee for high school football and basketball games. He was hired by the Northern Pacific RR and assisted in the closing of the mine until operations halted. He then began a long tenure with the construction company Wickens Brothers until 1981. Due to his tenacity in life and learning Nick always rose quickly to leadership positions. As members of a close-knit construction family, many memories were mad as they traveled from job to job, producing long-time friends in Winifred, Lewistown, on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, in all places across MT.
In 1984 he and wife Marg decided to move back to their Rosebud County roots and started their own construction company, Partners Inc. Nick worked with Morning Star Enterprises for a year, did a job in Glacier Park for the US Department of the Interior, and also designed a scaffolding system to repair Hungry Horse Dam. They completed work for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, Montana State Highways, BIA, and the Public Health Service. A true imagineer, Nick also designed an efficient mound septic system that enabled tribal members to build their homes at a lower cost.
As a retiree Nick loved gardening, growing fruit trees, collecting antiques, and has 100s of items on display in the Winifred Museum which includes everything from a milk and pop bottle collection, to guns, and tools. He loved going to garage sales and was always on the hunt for a good hammer. Nick also donated the use and operation of his machinery and labor for many community projects that were headed by the Chamber of Commerce such as the picnic area by Chief Dull Knife College, as well as helping the Everything Beautiful Thrift Store and more recently, the Circle of Life Youth Lodge in Muddy Cluster.
Nick was preceded in death by his wife Margaret, grandson Deryl Swanz, his parents and siblings.
Nick is survived by his five children, 12 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren:
1st born: Bob (Susan, deceased) their son Scott, with kids-Emera, Salem, Talon & Tyr; Bob’s daughter Sabrina and her daughter Aslin.
2nd born: Bill (Natalie) children Megan, Nickolas and Adam (Raul Martinez).
3rd born: Karen (Dennis Duty) their children Brooke, daughters Harper and Sawyer; Ashley (Ryan Dunn) son Cannon, step-children Braylon, and Grace; daughter Alysha (Steven Valentine) and their kids Olivia, Hailey and Noah.
4th born: Susan Swanz, her son Ben (his boys Layne & Thomas), and the last grandson, Parker Justin.
Gene (Joy) Culver, a son adopted in the Indian way, (their daughters Medina and Monique).
Nick considered everyone a friend, and could strike up a conversation on any topic, with anyone. He was a true story-teller and is already dearly missed.
We would like to express a special thank you to the Northern Cheyenne Service Unit Emergency Team, and all the Indian Health Service staff that took such good care of him throughout the years, and to the staff at Shoulderblade Complex. Nick really enjoyed getting meals and seeing everyone there.
Anyone wishing to donate a memorial in Dad’s name may send it to the Lame Deer Boys and Girls Club or to the Circle of Life Youth Lodge at Muddy Cluster.