GBI Magazine

Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 15 of 92

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 16 wanted to be able to say goodbye to." It was never about Parker when friends spoke with him, so it was not surprising that the group was caught off-guard when the news broke. "Eugene had the unique quality of being present in every conversation," said Carroll, who first met Parker 40 years ago during his recruiting visit. "For as accom- plished a person as he was, he was always there and focused on you. That is the rarest of traits. "He had as much to do as anyone with me coming to Purdue. It didn't take long on my recruiting visit to tell me this guy was special, very special." Parker's Boilermaker teammates and friends came back to say their goodbyes, pulling themselves together the best way they could. After the visitation, they assem- bled for an impromptu dinner at a local restaurant. It served as the right moment to laugh and cry. At the table was a who's-who of Boilermaker athletes from the 1970s: Carroll, Walter Jordan, Jerry Sichting, Michael White, Dick Satterfield and Steele. Frank Kend- rick, who didn't play at Purdue with Parker but was his recruiting host, was there. Even Jim Schaus, the son of late Coach Fred Schaus, was there along with Fort Wayne native and 1977 football MVP Fred Arrington. West Lafayette restaurant owner Jerry O'Bryan and his wife Jan, who were close to Jordan, Carroll, Parker and Co. in the 70s, were there, too. At the table, several things flowed — food and drink to be sure but also an equal dose of stories of hope and stories of lament. Before dinner, everyone at the table reflected on the life of their fallen friend and the stories began from there. "It was emotional, but it was a homecoming for the ages," Steele said. "It didn't matter if it was laughter or tears, it was important to share the stories of how much this guy impacted all of our lives." Of all of the stories shared, a couple of Steele's give insight into who Parker really was around his team- mates. As a freshman, Parker beat out Steele, actually taking over the starting position after the first eight games of the 1974-75 season. But that didn't stop the friendship from growing. "I knew I was in trouble competing with Eugene during pick-up games the fall before practice began," said Steele, who is in insurance in Greenville, N.C., after a couple of stints in college coaching. "We would come out off the floor and I would quickly grab water and a chair to rest, but Eugene would grab a jump rope and get to work. "That was who he was: Somebody that quietly worked. And he worked hard. He didn't want to show you up, he just wanted to get in shape." The depth of their relationship continued to grow. So much so that one of Parker's hidden talents would play a role in two of Steele's biggest moments of his personal life. "Eugene sang the Herb Alpert classic 'This Guy's in Love with You' at the basketball banquet my senior year (in 1976)," Steele recalled. "No one knew he had the talent to do that, but he nailed it." Wayne Doebling Parker was a standout guard for Purdue as a four-year starter from 1975-78.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of GBI Magazine - Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5