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LARRY DARNELL PARKER, SR. was born October 18, 1957 in St. Louis, Missouri as the youngest of three children born to Birdie Lee Parker and Euell Lewis. Both parents and his in-laws, Carrie & LT Sandford who loved him as a son, all preceded him in death.
Larry attended Jackson Elementary, Central High School and O’Fallon Technical School. He met me, the love of his life, Jenay Sandford, in band when we were only 12 years old (LT did not play that LOL). We shared the same band teacher, Mr. Kendall, who taught at different schools. We kept our eyes on one another through the years until we met up again at O’Fallon Tech - and from there it was on for over 43 years! We lived as best friends, confidant, and as one that will for-ever live in the minds of all in our circle of life.
OUR STORY, MY WORDS
Larry had a daughter while in high school, and at the time I could not imagine dating someone with a child; but we couldn’t resist what was meant to be. When Larry first met my family, he told his best friend Babill, he hit the jackpot because my parents owned their home and most of my brothers drove Cadillacs. I also thought I hit the jackpot when I believed he lived in a condo, just to realize he lived in Cochran Projects (smile). Later, after high school, Larry wanted me to go to college in Illinois with him and I declined, as St. Louis University (SLU) was my choice. He then changed his mind and decided to join the U.S. Navy where he served 21 years. We married and to our union was born our 3 sons Larry Jr., Rennell, and Kellen (aka Peat and Repeat - LOL).
On September 16, 1977, as Larry was home on leave from the Navy, he asked my parents for my hand in marriage and they said ok. I had 11 brothers and sisters and Larry vetted regularly by 3 of them when, Jan, Lisa, and Terry, who was always in the living room. We all remember Larry visiting on his yellow 10 speed or in a cab. If Larry stayed too long, my dad would cough or cut his eyes at Larry when it was time for him to go home. My mom loved her some Larry and whenever she baked a caramel cake, she made sure he knew. She had me wonder-ing “whose mom is this”(smile). We (plus one) were blessed to get married in the bookroom of the courthouse. Surprise! The plus one was Larry Jr., who was born in January of 1977 LOL. Our honeymoon was so exciting. First, we stopped at the store to get Gerber for Larry Jr., and we had bologna and other snacks to eat, while staying at the Holiday Inn on Hwy 44 and Hampton. The next day, while still honeymooning and Larry was on leave from the Navy, we attended a foot-ball game of his high school Central, that he so wanted to attend as they played Soldan; and if I can recall correctly, Soldan whipped up on them. Yes this is what we could afford, with him being home on leave, and I would do it all over again! This has led us to having a future of anniversary parties and celebrations because we didn’t have the traditional wedding and reception. Larry Jr., and I eventually moved to Norfolk, VA, where he was stationed. Living as family and cooking, I couldn’t believe Larry had the nerve to tell my mom I couldn’t boil an egg - so she mailed me index cards with recipes. Again, he had me wondering whose mom she was (smile).
Larry got out of the Navy in 1980 and we moved back to St. Louis. Soon after moving home, Rennell and then Kellen were born. Now with 4 kids, we continued to enjoy life as God had it for us. Life for any couple has the good, bad and ugly. Larry and I committed to have forever love and move past whatever issues in life came our way. We always kept things moving because life is short and we loved one another genuinely. We raised our daughter and sons the best we knew how and enjoyed all that God had blessed us with in our union.
Larry worked at Flourolined Systems as a machinist post Navy, but continued to fill out applications for work. We had also purchased our first home on Gimblin Street at this time. One day, a call came from McDonnell Douglas and they asked if he was interested in working for them - and before they could say another word, I said YES! I was then given information to give to Larry for his new job. Larry spent 37 years in this line of work at this company that changed names from McDonnell Douglas to Boeing to GKN Aerospace. Larry has always been a hard worker, managing full time employment and his responsibilities in the Navy Re-serves one weekend a month. He was also obligated by the military to leave home for 2 weeks every year for 17 years. This made our relationship even stronger.
Larry spent every free moment enjoying life as he loved it. When Cousin Byron would call for a Tee time, he would be gone. Or whenever Cousin Jeff or Fred would call for a good jazz concert, he would light up like a kid on Christmas. Other times, my brothers would call and say to Larry, brother-in-law let us do this or that, and he loved it! Larry did not have any birth brothers, but my siblings treated him as one because they called him bro-in-law for decades (smile).
Larry and I traveled as part of a group called “The Gateway Jet Setters,” as he was instrumental in the planning of many trips; such as 5 or 6 cruises, as well as trips to Hawaii, Las Vegas, and a couple of bus trips on the East Coast.
Larry loved his daughter and sons but when those grandkids started coming, OMG, it was on, as he melted from the time they were babies, till the last time he spent time with them. I would take care of gifts for the babies and the adults, yet those grandkids would run to their Papa/Grandpa who would give them the world. They all enjoyed watching movies with him in the “man cave” with his popcorn maker.
Larry and I always hosted big parties, birthday surprise parties for each other, or just parties because we loved our family and friends. We always wanted all our family and friends to know we loved to see them have a good time. Those who attended the back-yard parties back in the day, looked forward to them every year. One year at the backyard party, my boys felt it was funny and they decided to throw water balloons out the window hitting the DJ (smile). Family was every-thing to him and he showed it in fish frys, barbecues, RV rides around the city and by giving out his best dance moves.
Larry’s sisters lived in Atlanta and every year for Thanksgiving, he made sure to travel to see them. One-year, Larry surprised his sisters and brought their mom to Atlanta. Larry’s sister was so happy and surprised to see her mom, they acci-dently fell down some stairs loving and hugging each other. After making sure they were okay, we all laughed for many years after. This was one of many stories shared in Atlanta.
Larry leaves his legacy behind with his best friend/ loving wife, Jenay, daugh-ter, Tifeane, sons, Larry Jr. (Veronica), Rennell Sr. (Chasity), and Kellen (fiancé, Nicole). Seven grandchildren, KyShaun, Rennell Jr., Larry III, Kelson, Londyn, Kelicia and Semirra. Two sisters, Shirley (Bill) and Bernice. Best friend/brother, William (Diane) aka Babill. Six sisters-in-law, Raye (Jerry), LaRuth, Janet, Fe-licia, Karen (Willie), and Cynthia. Five brothers-in-law, Russell, Carl, Clifford (Joan), Gary and Terry (preceded in death), also incredibly special cousins and friends, Don, Byron, Jeff, Jessie Lee and Monica, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.