SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA-John B. Parker, the founder of OrangeCounty-based Parker Properties and an industry pioneer whose careerspanned 60 years, has died at the age of 83. Parker—who made hismark as a developer, a brokerage executive and a leader ineducation, community and cultural organizations—died of a cerebralhemorrhage at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo.

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Parker, who was a resident of San Juan Capistrano, had beenactive in Aliso Viejo-based Parker Properties until the time of hisdeath. Over the course of his career, he was responsible for thedevelopment of over 10 million square feet of office space inOrange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego and developed some ofSouthern California’s most recognized commercial buildings.

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Parker’s real estate industry accomplishments ranged fromopening the first Orange County office of Coldwell Banker (now CBRichard Ellis) in 1962, to moving Allergan Pharmaceuticals to itscurrent location in Irvine to the development of the Summit OfficeCampus in Aliso Viejo—along with supporting industry education viaefforts like his role in establishing the University of California,Irvine Graduate School of Management. Outside of the industry, hewas active in supporting community and cultural organizationsincluding UC Irvine Program in Geriatric’s Senior Health Center,KidWorks, the Orange County Performing Arts Center and Laguna BeachMuseum of Art.

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Gavin Herbert, founder and chairman emeritus of AllerganPharmaceuticals recalled, “John Parker was this legendary realestate character—stories of his off-the-wall humor, determination,and generosity reached an almost mythical status.” Herbert recalledhow Parker brought Allergan to its Irvine headquarters: “I’ll neverforget this. In the 1970s when I was in Europe, John sold everyoneon the idea of Allergan moving from our five-acre property to a24-acre property at our current location. It was crazy for our sizeat the time. He made it happen and he couldn’t have been moreright. He was one of the most effective board members Allergan hasever had.”

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Parker was born in Beverly Hills, graduated from Los AngelesHigh School, entered the Navy at 17, and then enrolled at UCLA withthe help of the GI bill. Upon graduation, he was hired in 1951 bythe real estate firm Coldwell Banker to work the “sign truck”putting up and taking down “for sale” signs.

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He was with Coldwell Banker from 1951-1974, in the L.A. officefor the first 11 years before opening the Orange County office,then went to Northern California in 1967 reorganize eight CBoffices. In Orange County, the group that Parker hired for the newoffice were known as "the tea house gang" for the tea house-likedesign of the firm’s temporary office on Pacific Coast Highway. Theteahouse gang still meets to this day as a social and philanthropicgroup.

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Parker, who rose through the ranks over the next 23 years tobecome president of Coldwell Banker Management Co., landed theIrvine Co. as his first client in Orange County. Ray Watson, formerpresident of the Irvine Co., recalls, “John was sent to the largelyundeveloped Orange County to help the Irvine Co. fulfill itspromise to build a new city around a new university.”

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In 1974, Parker formed Parker Properties where he was joined byhis son, Russ Parker, in 1994. Completing Parker’s vision for afamily business, son-in-law Lee Redmond joined forces with ParkerProperties in 1999. Together, they created numerous projects, mostnotably a 60-acre office project in Aliso Viejo, Summit OfficeCampus.

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The peaks and valleys of Parker’s development career wereemblematic of the opportunities and perils of commercial realestate development. In his mentoring of hundreds of young peopleinterested in the real estate industry, he shared his stories offailure as well as success as a way of teaching the realities ofthe industry.

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Andy Pelicano, dean of UC Irvine’s Graduate School ofManagement, said of Parker’s role: “Without John Parker, the Centerfor Real Estate at UCI would not exist. He was the catalyst thatbrought everyone together.” In 1999, Parker received the GraduateSchool of Management Lifetime Achievement Award. Other awardsincluded the Orange County Power-Packed Philanthropist Award andthe Humanitarian Award from the National Conference of Christiansand Jews.

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In addition, Parker was a governor for the Urban Land InstituteFoundation and a trustee and for the Orange County Performing ArtsCenter and Laguna Beach Museum of Art. He was active in his supportof KidWorks, a community organization working with at-risk-childrenand their families in Santa Ana. Ava Steaffens, director ofKidworks, said, “Up until the day he died, John was dreaming up newideas and resources to keep hope alive for the children and youthat KidWorks.” He was also both a patient and board member at UCIrvine Program in Geriatric’s Senior Health Center, committed tosupporting top-quality medical care for older adults and theirfamilies.

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In addition to his wife of 59 years, Betty, Parker is survivedby his three children and their spouses: Lee and KC Redmond; Russand Karen Parker; and Todd and Kerry Burnight’ as well as 11grandchildren and four great- grandchildren that meant so much tohim.

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A celebration of Parker’s life will be held Saturday, Dec. 11 at10 a.m. at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in San Juan Capistrano.In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the John ParkerRemembrance Fund. The fund was created by the University ofCalifornia, School of Medicine’s Geriatrics Program to honor hiscommitment to the program. UC Irvine, Program in Geriatrics, 101The City Drive South, Bldg 200, Suite 835, Orange, CA 92868.

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