Francis I. Parker, a leader of the Charlotte legal community and the law firm bearing his name, died today following an extended illness. Until recent months, the 84-year-old Mr. Parker served as a retired of counsel in the Charlotte, NC, office of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP.
The Firm from which he retired scarcely resembled the partnership he joined in 1953. At that time, Mr. Parker was one of five attorneys practicing law with the firm of Taliaferro, Clarkson & Grier. He was vital to the firm’s evolution into Parker Poe and its expansion into one of the largest law firms in North and South Carolina.
“We are saddened by the loss of Francis Parker. He was a distinguished mentor, colleague and friend,” said William P. Farthing, Jr., Managing Partner of Parker Poe. “His passion for the law and legal profession will remain an inspiration for all of us who have had the privilege of knowing him.”
For more than 50 years, Mr. Parker practiced as a real estate & commercial development attorney. His partners, however, agreed that when it came to the law he was the most knowledgeable generalist at a time of increased specialization. His legal acumen, as well as his intellect and independence, was why in 1986 Governor James Martin appointed him to the Supreme Court of North Carolina as an associate justice.
The foundation for Mr. Parker’s expansive knowledge was experience and 14 years of service as a member and chair of the North Carolina Board of Law Examiners. His leadership in the legal community also included serving as the president of the Mecklenburg County Bar Association in 1969-1970.
He also was president of the Legal Aid Society from 1970-71. This was at a time when it wasn’t uncommon for the organization to file litigation against the Board of Education and its chairman William E. Poe. Yes, the same Bill Poe who was Mr. Parker’s law firm partner. Mr. Parker always put his legal obligations first and, despite some adverse publicity, his friendship with Bill Poe never suffered.