His soft-spoken demeanor belied the powerful man behind the badge. It was, however, the size of his heart that drew people to him.
Wyoming County Sheriff C.S. Parker, “Sherill” to his family and friends, was well respected. He was a man devoted to his family. A man who earned the loyalty and devotion of his many, many friends. A man with an infectious smile and a mischievous side. He was also a man who loved Wyoming County and its people.
With nearly half-a-century in law enforcement, Parker, 72, died from lung cancer on Christmas Eve.
Parker began his law enforcement career as chief deputy for Sheriff Herbert Graham in 1973. During his 45-year career, he worked with four more sheriffs and spent four years as assistant chief of police in Mullens.
He knew from the time he was a boy that law enforcement was what he wanted to do, he said during a 2005 interview with The Wyoming County Report.
Despite the long hours, the high stress and every day dangers, he loved the job.
“I enjoy helping people,” he said during the interview. “When you arrest someone for murder, or drugs, or child abuse, it makes you feel good because you know people don’t have to worry about them.”
He was dedicated to making communities within the county safe places in which to live and raise a family.
“You have to like people and want to see people protected to stay with law enforcement,” he explained. “This is not a high paying job and there are a lot of hours involved.”
As sheriff or chief deputy, Parker was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“That’s just the way the job is,” he said. “You just can’t leave it alone after 4 o’clock every day.”
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Parker grew up in Itmann and, just after high school, he worked in a local coal mine for a couple of years before going into law enforcement.
He credited his dad, Cloyd Parker, with being the biggest influence in his life.
“Just by the type of person he was,” Parker said during the 2005 interview. “The way he treated everybody – he’d give you anything he had. He always helped his neighbors. I’ve always admired him for that.”
Parker displayed those same traits. During the 2001 flood, Parker’s own home was flooded. However, he was on duty doing his best to help others devastated by the worst disaster in county history.
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Few people knew Parker better than former county Sheriff Randall Aliff, who now serves as a county commissioner. The two worked together from 1976.
“When I was working in Pineville, Sherill was my go-to-guy,” Aliff said.
At the time, Parker was a deputy and Aliff was a town patrolman.
“If I needed any help in town or had to go outside my jurisdiction, Sherill was always there for me.”
Aliff said the two could respond to an incident together, not talk about what the other was going to do when they arrived, yet somehow they both knew what the other was going to do before he did it.
“We were just like brothers,” Aliff emphasized. “I don’t know of any two people who could work together that long and not have a disagreement over anything.”
Aliff said when he decided to run for sheriff the first time in 1989, Parker was the first person with whom he talked.
“I went to his house and asked him, if I was elected sheriff, if he would be my chief deputy,” Aliff recalled.
Aliff was elected sheriff twice.
State law prevents more than two consecutive terms for county sheriffs, so Parker then ran for sheriff and served for two terms while Aliff served as the chief deputy.
Then, Aliff sought another term and won, thus Parker again became the chief deputy.
It was the same with Aliff’s final term, though he retired early due to medical reasons in 2016.
After winning the Democratic nomination in the May 2016 primary, and with no candidate on the Republican ticket, Parker began his final term as sheriff Jan. 1, 2017. He had one year left in the term.
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“We always cared about this county. Of course, we were both just old Wyoming County boys ourselves,” Aliff said.
“And we worked the roads just like the deputies. We didn’t ask them to do anything we wouldn’t do. We worked Christmas Day and other holidays to help out the deputies.
“It was just indescribable working with him,” Aliff said. “As law enforcement officers, we saw a lot of tragedies, a lot of unexpected deaths, but we had some good times too.”
Parker also had a mischievous side and was a prankster.
“He was forever playing pranks on the deputies,” Aliff recalled with a laugh.
“But when we needed to be serious, we were.
“I always knew he had my back and he knew I had his.
“I have so many good memories of him,” Aliff said.
“This is just a tremendous loss.”
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“Sherill Parker was a devoted family man, pillar of the community who lived his life taking care of this county,” emphasized Mike Cochrane, county prosecutor.
“And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Sherill was much beloved by anyone who dealt with him.
“We’ve not only lost a great sheriff, but a great man and wonderful friend to us all.
“And, on a personal note, I’m going to miss very much my friend, C.S. Parker,” Cochrane emphasized.
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“I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with Sherill Parker over the years,” said Jewell Aguilar, county clerk and a longtime deputy clerk. “He became so much more than a co-worker, he became a true friend. Anytime I needed him, he would say, ‘I’ll be right there’. He always had time for me.
“Sheriff Parker was well-respected in our communities and committed to making a positive difference in Wyoming County.
“His family, and Wyoming County, has suffered a great loss and my heartfelt prayers go out to each of his loved ones.
“Sherill Parker was a good man, sheriff, and a friend to so many. He will live on in our hearts with the memories each of us hold.
“I fondly remember Sheriff proudly bringing his grandson Nick to the courthouse at a very young age. As long as Nick travels through, he will be a happy reminder of our beloved Sheriff C.S. Parker,” Aguilar said.
Nick Parker now serves as a sheriff’s deputy.
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“In all the years, I knew him, he was always cool, thoughtful, and professional,” recalled David Stover, circuit clerk. “He left an impact and will be missed. My prayers are with his family.”
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“Although I have known Sherill Parker most of my life, I have had the honor of working with him since 2008,” noted Jason Mullins, commission president. “He loved Wyoming County; but, more importantly, he loved the people here. He will truly be missed.”
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“Sherill and I have been friends since the ‘70s,” noted Mike Goode, former county clerk who now serves as county administrator.
“He has served the people well over the years; but, more importantly, he has been a true friend to a lot of people.
“He was the kind of person you could depend on. He was loyal to his friends.
“I always liked being around him because he was such a good guy,” Goode emphasized.
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“During the last 11 years, I have had the pleasure of being a co-worker with Sherill Parker,” Mike Cook, county assessor, explained. “The sheriff has conducted himself with class and professionalism toward the citizens of Wyoming County.
“Those that chose to break the law or skirt the system saw a different side of Sheriff Parker.
“He was forever committed to the safety of Wyoming County citizens and their property. He will be sorely missed by the people in our area and those of us in the courthouse in particular,” Cook said.
“Go rest high, Sheriff Parker, because the world is a better place because of the way you carried yourself.”