The Rev. H. David Parker, who spent 20 years in the nation's military before becoming pastor of Emanuel Baptist Church in Elmont for 45 years, died Saturday of a heart attack at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He was 93.
Parker, who was drafted into the Army in 1942, was the nation's youngest regimental sergeant-major when, in 1943, he attained that rank at age 21, his family said.
After serving in England, France, the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan, he returned to the states, serving at Fort Benning, Georgia, until he was honorably discharged in October 1948.
That December, he enlisted in the Air Force, where he would serve in the United States and overseas until retiring in October 1962.
He was the recipient of more than a dozen military awards, including the Commendation Medal for meritorious service. He was assigned to Mitchel Air Force Base in Hempstead in 1952 and married Willie Mae Bates of Hempstead in 1953. They had six children. She died in June 1987.
In those last military years, while stationed at Mitchel Field, Parker joined the Antioch Baptist Church in Hempstead and there became the Eastern Baptist Association of New York's first ordained assistant pastor, said Antioch's current pastor, Bishop Phillip Elliott.
He said Parker was the first Nassau resident to be the association's moderator, or leader, serving from 1976 to 1980. The association covers Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens.
Parker came to Emanuel in 1963, when it had about 60 members. He was its fifth pastor. When he retired in 2008, the church had more than 700 members.
In 1972, Parker founded and organized the Nassau Council of Black Clergy.
In 1992 he became an area vice president for the Empire Baptist Missionary Convention. In 1994, he was appointed ambassador to the United Nations for the National Baptist Convention USA Inc.
In 1979, he was appointed chairman of the Nassau County Interracial Task Force by County Executive Fran Purcell. Parker also served for 16 years on the Nassau County Human Rights Commission.
Former Hempstead Mayor James Garner extolled Parker as a man who believed in doing the right thing all the time. "He was a role model that I only hoped to emulate," he said.
Survivors include wife Flora Covington Parker of Baltimore; four daughters, Wanda K. Parker of Hempstead, Helen M. Kennedy of Fort Lauderdale, Joyce A. Parker of Topeka, Kansas, and Dorothy J. Parker-Guana of Amityville; two sons, David K. Parker of Chicago and Daniel K. Parker of Atlanta; three sisters, Alma Bowie of Anniston, Alabama, Ruth Parker of Clanton, Alabama, and Ethel Carr of Dayton, Ohio; 14 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.
The wake is from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Emanuel Baptist Church in Elmont. The service will be there at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Burial will follow at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.