James Magee Parker
James Magee Parker was born April 30, 1930, in Roby, Texas, the second child to C. A. and Euna Magee Parker. The family moved to Littlefield, Texas, when James was eight years old and then to Sweetwater, Texas, in 1940.
James began a career in the grocery business at the age of 11, when his mother encouraged him to go to work at a Sweetwater grocery store owned by Sam Glass.
He graduated from Sweetwater Newman High School in 1947 and enrolled that fall at Hardin-Simmons University. While a student at HSU, James served as Student Council treasurer his senior year, was a member of the B.A. Club and the Rodeo Association, served as vice president of Ferguson Hall Council, and was vice president of the Sweetwater Club. He graduated from HSU in 1951 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
James met his future wife, Cynthia Ann Pearson of Lamesa, his senior year on the HSU campus. They were married August 4, 1951.
The young couple moved back to Sweetwater where James restarted his career in the grocery business, working for Glass again. Their four children, Jimmy, Terri, Carla, and Paige, were born during this time in Sweetwater when James was moving up in his career. In 1953, he was named general manager of the Thrifty Store in Sweetwater, and in 1957, he became business partners with Glass, investing in Sunbeam Enterprises and Sam Glass Enterprises, doing business as Super Duper Food Stores, Inc.
The grocery store chain flourished and included 21 stores across the state at his height, using innovative and visionary marketing with service as a core value. After the death of Glass in 1974, James became president of the company, and in 1984, he sold the Super Duper stores to Furr Foods.
James then diversified his business into real estate and investments and continued his involvement in ranching and in civic affairs.
Committed to a better life for Abilenians, James served on the First National Bank of Abilene Board of Directors from 1972 to 2004 and was the First Financial Bankshares Holding Company director from 1980 to 2004. He served on the Hendrick Medical Center Foundation and as chairman of the Hendrick Medical Center Development Corporation. He was also the president of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Abilene Civic Center Advisory Board from 1975 to 1980, West Texas Utilities from 1987 to 2000, and West Texas Rehab Center from 1991 to 1998. He served on the board of the Abilene Community Foundation in 1990.
Lauded for his service and philanthropy, James received the Dyess Air Force Base Brave Shield Award in 1978, and he was the first recipient of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award in 1985. In 2005, James received from HSU the Keeter Alumni Service Award, the highest alumni honor Hardin-Simmons can bestow. James has served his alma mater on the HSU Board of Development, the School of Music Foundation, and on the Board of Trustees. As a leader on the HSU Board of Trustees, for several years he served as chairman of the Budget and Audit Committee and on the Executive Committee.
James and Cynthia created the Parker Endowed Scholarship for missionary students at HSU, and after the passing of Cynthia in 2002, James established the Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts.
James continued the legacy of his and Cynthia’s support of Hendrick Health Systems with a gift that was recognized by the naming of the James and Cynthia Parker Wing.
James serves as deacon at First Baptist Church of Abilene, where he and Cynthia became members in 1959. James lives in Abilene, and in addition to his four children, has 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct James Magee Parker into the HSU Hall of Leaders.
We would like to thank the family and friends of James Parker for attending this event in his honor.