Rex R. Parker, 83, deputy Licenses and Inspections commissioner

Posted: April 09, 2014

WHEN REX PARKER joined the city's Licenses and Inspections Department in the early '90s, the place was jumping.

Bennett Levin had taken over the often-troubled department in 1992 and began to crack heads. He prowled the city looking for code violators; he went after contractors who failed to get permits for construction jobs; he knocked down former crack houses and abandoned buildings harboring drugs, the homeless and rats.

And Rex Parker, as Levin's deputy, was with him every step of the way.

"He would size up a situation and get it cleaned up," said his daughter, Karen Parker. "He didn't believe in a 9-to-5 job. He wanted to be there, to find out what was going on."

Rex R. Parker, who came to the city job after retiring in 1987 as director of operations for the Postal Service in Virginia, controlling 1,100 post offices, and an outstanding athlete in his youth who captained a champion Air Force basketball team in Europe, died of heart failure March 24. He was 83 and was living in Yeadon, Delaware County.

Rex was also active in Democratic political campaigns in Philadelphia, employing his considerable managerial skills to help candidates win elections.

Karen said she wasn't always aware of what her father did for L&I, but she knew he didn't hesitate to go out at midnight to check up on a job.

Whatever he did, he attracted the appreciation of then-Mayor Ed Rendell, who gave him a commendation in 1994.

Rex Parker was born in Philadelphia to Rex and Nannie Brown Parker. He was a three-letter athlete at West Philadelphia High School, excelling in football, basketball and baseball.

His daughter said he had offers of athletic scholarships from a number of colleges, but opted to join the Air Force. He was assigned to the 3909th Air Police Squadron.

He was captain of the squadron's basketball team, which played throughout Europe, including a game at Wembley Stadium in London and a match with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Rex married Dolores Jackson on Sept. 13, 1952.

He began his career with the Postal Service as a clerk while attending Temple University. Rex worked his way up through the Postal Service administration until he took over the post offices in Virginia. In 1985, he received the Postal Career Executive Service Special Achievement Award.

As a traveler, Rex was proud of the fact that he filled three passports with stamps from every continent except Antarctica. As recently as November, he and his daughter traveled to Australia. It was his second trip there.

"He touched many lives," his daughter said. "He was a people person. He loved people from children to the elderly. He was a man of the world and believed it is important to get to know people of different countries and cultures."

His wife died in 2009. Besides his daughter, he is survived by an adopted granddaughter, Wendy Logan Reid.

Services: Were Friday. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery. Donations may be made to the Franklin Institute, c/o Andrea Ayers, 222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia 19103.

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