A funeral mass and celebration of the life of Victoria “Viki” Parker was held Tuesday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Parker pumped gas at Delta Western, where she was remembered for keeping biscuits for dogs.
Parker was 69 and died Sept. 27 from cancer at Haines Assisted Living. Her dog Chacho and friends were at her side.
HAL office manager Vince Hansen said Parker told him she had no relatives to contact. She told him she grew up in a strict, military family, gave birth at a young age, and left to escape family disapproval. She said she tried to reunite with her son much later “but it sounded like he chose not to,” Hansen said.
Parker joined the church after chatting with him at the gas station about matters of faith for a few years. “Then she dove in, went to all the meetings, all the classes, devoured our library. The church became a real important part of her life. She made friends. When she learned I was the bookkeeper she offered to help and ended up taking it completely over. She did a great job.”
Parker came to Haines in the late 1990s with former residents Randy and Jeanne Alford. She lived with them for about five years, caring for Randy’s mother and their home and pets while they worked out of town. “We needed someone who could be trusted. She cared for everything so perfectly well that she was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Jeanne Alford said. When the Alfords moved, Parker stayed.
Parker volunteered at Haines Animal Rescue Kennel, worked part-time as a clerk at Howsers, and retired about a year ago from Delta Western, where she’d worked 13 years, said co-worker Michelle Wing.
Wing traveled with Parker for cancer treatments in Anchorage and Juneau, and the two had a regular “date night” Mondays at HAL. “She’d ask me to bring make-up so we could dress up and listen to HAL’s Pals play music. She loved music and knew all the songs.”
Parker could be gruff and opinionated, but she was “very classy inside,” Wing said. “She was one of those people who you could not judge by its cover.” Wing said Parker rarely complained. “Even on the LeConte last winter when everyone was getting sick and she was already sick from her treatments.”
Parker collected beach glass and stones and enjoyed beachcombing with her dogs. She was a voracious reader. “Someone left a medical reference book at the gas station and she read every page, with comments,” Wing said. “She could talk to you about a wide variety of subjects. She talked about politics locally and worldwide. She was up on everything.”
Wing said Parker was born Aug. 4, 1944. Few details of her early life were available this week. Angela Hull of Juneau met Parker in Grass Valley, Calif. in the early 1970s. They lived together in various California towns for about 20 years. Parker helped Hull care for her daughter. “I think it’s possible she felt as bad as I did when she died. She loved my child as if she were her own.”
Parker worked as a bookkeeper, a bartender, a waitress, and store clerk, Hull said. “She had a million different jobs and would have been a great hermit, but she was forced to work out of necessity. She never hung onto any of her money, but she was good at keeping track of other people’s money.”
Of Parker’s early life, Hull said she had little information. “There was something a little off with her her whole life, but she had a good heart.”
Ike Lorenz said Parker was the only person outside of his family who had a key to his house. She took care of their dog when he was away and they attended the same church. He honored her privacy. “I respected her as a person and knew her for who she was up here. And she was happy in Haines. The community was good to her.”
“Viki believed in salvation and she believed in God’s ocean of mercy,” said Hansen, a Catholic deacon. “I believe she will receive it.”
“She was so hearty and so strong. That’s the thing I admired most about her,” Michelle Wing said. “I’m going to miss her so much.”
Parker leaves two dogs that have been adopted by friends.